Artist: New Order
Album: Music Complete
Release Date: 09/25/2015
When New Order announced their new LP, Music Complete, I was worried. Despite the fact that they wrote my favorite song ever, 1983’s “Age of Consent,” among many huge eighties hits, time has not been kind to New Order. In the ten years since their last (mostly boring) record, the band suffered a nasty, public divorce from original bassist Peter Hook. While that loss was offset by the return of original keyboardist Gillian Gilbert, Hooky remains one of the most influential bass players of the past thirty years or so, and has been with these guys since they were Joy Division. Also, I saw this lineup live and it was pretty bad, so I was pleasantly surprised- to say the least- to find that with Music Complete, they’ve turned in their best record in over 20 years.
The band’s last few albums (and the Bad Lieutenant side project which features all current New Order members except Gilbert) had them drifting further away from the dance floor; guitars took prominence in a way that the band had avoided since early Joy Division days. On Music Complete, the focus is fully on getting bodies to move. “Singularity” has a moody post-punk intro (with new bassist Tom Chapman imitating Hook perfectly) before heading into a motorik four-on-the-floor groove and the kind of huge chorus the band is known for. Frontman Bernard Sumner’s lyrics remain (endearingly) clunky, but his melodies are so good, it’s easy to forgive him. All around, the band sounds rejuvenated and ready to take over the world- or at least the clubs- yet again.
– Layne Montgomery