CD Review: New Order

New Order
Movement (1981)
Power, Corruption & Lies (1983)
Low-life (1985)
Brotherhood (1986)
Technique (1989)
London/Warner Bros./Rhino
By David Chiu

When Joy Division singer Ian Curtis committed suicide in 1980, the future of his band looked pretty bleak at the time. Curtis was such a commanding presence both as a singer and focal point of the Manchester post-punk band, that his loss or the idea of replacing him seemed unfathomable. Fortunately the rest of his band mates carried on and became the most unlikely and successful pop group ever as New Order. If there was any connection to the past on New Order’s part, it was the group’s sense of detachment, but musically speaking the music was far more upbeat sounding and embraced more electronic and dance sounds. New Order’s first five Factory Records albums were just reissued each with an additional disc of B-sides, rarities, and mixes.

The debut album Movement didn’t represent a complete break from Joy Divsions’ past—even guitarist Bernard Sumner and bassist Peter Hook took turns trying to evoke Curtis’ ominous vocals, and the music on that record still had a dark post-punk vibe . But gradually New Order shaped its own musical identity with the excellent Power, Corruption & Lies where the tunes such as “Age of Consent” sounded a bit more accessible (The classic single “Blue Monday” was recorded at that time and is now included on the bonus disc); even Sumner started to find his voice as a decent singer. Low-life was an achievement with the dance grooves sounding more obvious—that album was highlighted by tremendous tracks “Love Vigilantes,” “Sub-culture,” and the absolutely divine “Perfect Kiss.” Brotherhood bordered on both electronic tunes and straightforward rock material, but it still had some great tracks like the popular “Bizarre Love Triangle,” the driving “Paradise,” and the powerful State of the Nation. Technique was definitely a pop album in every sense of the word influenced by the techno sounds of the time such as on “Round and Round,” “Fine Time” and “Run 2,” although again there seemed more rock oriented fare like on “Dream Attack.”


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