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Defined by a single song,
but still a fun new wave flashback

Modern English
Double Door
Chicago, IL
July 11, 2010
Modern English Modern English Modern English

Story and photos by Andy Argyrakis

It's always a challenge for a band that's known for a sole smash single to break beyond the one hit wonder category, and even though Modern English released seven studio CDs since forming in 1979, its known primarily for 1982's "I Melt With You." Similar to fellow 80s acts with a limited chart history (such as a-ha or The Church), the Essex-bred act's always experienced more fame overseas, though now with the original line-up back together and a new CD in tow, the Robbie Grey-led group's making a gallant attempt to crack the American market once again.

A sprinkling of songs from its new studio CD Soundtrack (Darla Records) indicated a modernized new wave approach that could easily attract Interpol or Editors fans with the jangly single "It's OK" keeping in the group's anthemic tradition. And for those who've lost touch with Modern English in the interim, its lean but just long enough hour set found the fellas following in the footsteps of Joy Division, crossed with the slightly more commercial leanings of The Psychedelic Furs or Simple Minds.

The surprisingly small but fairly mighty crowd sported T-shirts ranging from Devo to The Cure and The Smiths, suggesting most came to hear older cuts and the band certainly obliged. "After the Snow" served as a textbook synth-pop tune, "Black Houses" could've very well been Bauhaus reincarnated, while "Life In The Glad House" was dark and dreamy in a post-punk framework. Of course, it was what Grey referred to as "that song" that truly brought down the house, sending home retro enthusiasts with sweet melodic memories that showcased Modern English's '80s impact, even in spite of a short radio resume.

Modern English Modern English Modern English

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