This is a triumphant return. A release that should remind certain acts just who created the template.
As I sit here, I still can't believe I'm lucky enough to be in a position to review a new New Order lp. Yes, they are, and always were that good.
The first three songs remind me of the beginning of Brotherhood, stripped back and muted in delivery. However the keyboards sound very much like Ceremony-era New Order at times; reedy, monochrome and primitive.
"Who's Joe" is a somewhat muted affair, now and then the growly guitar breaks loose to up the tempo. "Hey Now" is an out and out love song, with that classic winsome, slightly alien vocal delivery, yet again augmented with ice cold slabs of guitar. Again, it should come as no surprise that Hooky's bass guitar pins the song down like a butterfly behind a case. Maybe this tension, found between the ethereal nature of Sumner's lyrics and the driving attack of Hook's bass, is the reason that they always sound so bloody exciting, and why they could, as a band make monstrously overproduced, "big" sounding records without ever sounding pompous.
"Waiting for the Sirens Call" warms up, and is a guitar laden run through. Barney plays the little boy lost roll to perfection, as ever. Whren he sings "Tell me your name/tell me your story cos I'm into it / Running through life like a misfit" you just warm to him.
The single, "Krafty", is thee most Glorious New Order record in bloody years, in my mind since "Bizarre Love Triangle". Shades of Bowie at times, I thought, but what the fuck? It's advantage is a glorious sing a-long chorus, a which is carried on in "I Told You So", which builds up to a torrent of synths and blurting, angry guitar squalls. It reminds me of Suede, but without the pretence or pussyfooting (What I'm trying to say is that it's a lot better).
"Morning Night and Day" is another chance for Barney to get soulful; his romanticism is given an acoustic background, augmented with swooping synths. "Dracula's Castle" is very monoglot and gnomic until it explodes into classic icy New Order, those great driving, machine-like drums propelling a the song into the stratosphere.
"Jet stream" has a straining synth backbone that seemingly sucks the song into a black vortex that is given form with some very abrupt guitar lines at the end. "Guilt is a Useless Emotion" is yet another arctic track (it is very reminiscent of northern, Scandinavian wastes or tundra; very bleak, but always so fucking powerful and inspiring). All of a sudden it fades away into the mist.
"Turn" is the classic quiet track at the LP's closing. A busy, grubby synth line contrasts with the semi-acoustic chiming of Barney's guitar. And all of a sudden it's over.
Normally I get worried when my fave bands reappear. But this time there are no worries. Even with a playing time of just over half an hour it's a brilliant proposition; (actually a classic length, remember Funhouse? Crocodiles? And remember all those bollocks lps with 70 minutes playing times...) This is a triumphant return. A release that should remind certain acts just who created the template.
Words: Richard Foster.