Most bands that haven’t recorded in four years would want to return with something fresh. Not Modern English. This British group — originally punk, but more famous for three albums of alternative pop — is back with a cuddly new record, improbably kicked off by a remake of the 1983 song ”I Melt With You,” the closest the band ever came to a hit.
The new version sounds almost exactly like the old one, but it’s crisper, as if acknowledging that the three guys in Modern English are older and more settled now, and perhaps like to wear their clothes more smartly pressed. The remake may well accomplish its mission and become a mainstream pop hit.
Other cuts on the album are even more adorable than ”I Melt With You.” ”Life’s Rich Tapestry,” for instance, has a synthesizer accompaniment that sounds like a sprinkling of bright polka dots. Pillow Lips is lush and deeply tender. Both these songs (and most of the others, too) tell about happiness gratefully embraced in a world of trouble.
This scenario is more realistic than the fantasy romances usually depicted in pop. It helps explain why even the lightest, most eager and abandoned melodies on this album tap a deeper vein of feeling than most songs do.