Most people only know OMD for “If You Leave,” the synthpop bonbon from Pretty in Pink that will follow Molly Ringwald for the rest of her life. But the British band runs a lot deeper than that sugary hit implies.

“Helen of Troy,” from the band’s new CD, English Electric (BMG, $16), continues OMD’s brainy tradition of songs about science, history and mythology. “Paul Humphreys and I are essentially nerds,” says singer-bassist Andy McCluskey (pictured to the right of Humphreys). “I wanted to be an archeologist and he wanted to be in electronics, but we became accidental pop stars.”

McCluskey talked with American Way about three history-inspired tunes from the group that dared to name itself Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark.

“Joan of Arc,” from Architecture & Morality (1981)
“When the band was touring France in 1980 and going to places like Rouen and Orleans, someone said, ‘You’re doing the Joan of Arc tour!’
So I became fascinated with her and the way it’s so hard to pin down what’s true and what’s fiction about her.”

“Tesla Girls,” from Junk Culture (1984)
“Being proper geeks, we researched our songs in libraries like we were doing a thesis. But the world doesn’t want a straight, boring song about ‘Nikola Tesla was the father of electricity/Blah, blah blah.’ So we had to wrap it in something a bit sexy.”

“Helen of Troy,” rom English Electric (2013)
“She’s so mythologized that she’s essentially become one big, long, historical metaphor that everybody approaches differently, and I’m no different. ‘Helen of Troy’ is a clunky metaphor for dramatic personal changes I’ve been through lately.”