The band New Order is breaking its decade of radio silence with the release of “Music Complete.” Formerly known as Joy Division, the renamed New Order is the kind of band that isn’t required to prove anything to anyone anymore. They already had a seminal career as Joy Division, producing other-wordly, tantalizingly cold music that influenced a generation of musicians. After the death of original vocalist Ian Curtis, they were reborn as New Order with band additions Tom Chapman, Gillian Gilbert and Phil Cunningham, producing a slew of infectious dance-infected pop ranging from “Power, Corruption, and Lies” to “Temptation.”
New Order’s last full release was 2005’s “Waiting for the Siren’s Call,” which was also the final album with founding member Peter Hook. “Music Complete” opens with the lead single “Restless.” It’s a jangly modern tune, showcasing Bernard Sumner’s trademark lazily tired vocals which actually enhance the theme of the song: greed. The song is full of energy and gets your feet itching to get on the dancefloor. The mood is turned over in the next song, as “Singularity” finds the group harkening back to their Joy Division days. The beat recalls the band’s hit “Love Will Tear Us Apart,” and Sumner seems to be channeling Curtis, intoning with a somber gravity: “I can feel your presence here/Tender softly through the air.” “Plastic” rounds off the three-song opening salvo, firmly planting the listener’s feet on the dance floor with its synths and additional vocals by La Roux’s Elly Jackson.
The album is studded with guests, collaborations like Jackson’s “Tutti Frutti” and “People on the High Line.” The former is a legitimately fun disco-like jam, with a subtly catchy yet cheesy chorus that Sumner and Jackson sell well, “You got me where it hurts/But I don’t really care/‘Cause I know I’m OK/ Whenever you are there.” In “Stray Dog,” Iggy Pop channels a snarling Leonard Cohen, sounding positively weary and sleazy with the raggedly strung lyrics. Brandon Flowers also gets a guest spot on “Superheated,” harmonizing with Sumner to great effect.
To a casual observer, the abundance of guests seems like an effort to cover up the absence of bassist Hook. However, new bassist Tom Chapman actually does a good job of filling his shoes. He successfully emulates Hooky’s liquid basslines amid a dense mix of electronic and live music. On “Music Complete,” New Order strays away from the more alt-rock leanings of “Waiting for The Sirens’ Call” to lean more heavily on the electronic aspect of their music. In this album they’ve proven that even years later, they can still make the music that inspired a generation of musicians.
“Music Complete” was released on Friday.
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