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New Music: New Order

By Derek Baker, October 6 2015 —

Though New Order is many years removed from their status as ‘80s electronic music pioneers, the band keeps delivering new music. Now they’ve returned with their 10th studio album, Music Complete, which finds the band sticking to their heavily-produced “Blue Monday” style.

Only one song on the album stays under the five-minute mark, but most earn their extended length. The tracks on Music Complete are polished, evidence of the years the band has spent in the studio mastering their craft. The band effortlessly combines soaring synthesizers and drowned-out guitars with lead singer Bernard Sumner’s simple vocals to create an energetic house sound that is uniquely New Order.

Some may worry about a drop-off in quality, as founding member and bassist Peter Hook left the band in 2011. But Hook’s replacement, Tom Chapman, does justice to the driving bass sound that defined New Order’s early work.

The album begins with lead single “Restless.” With the most organic sound on the album, “Restless” almost doesn’t belong with the songs that come afterwards. It’s a solid track, but would have fit better later in the album. ENT_NewOrderCover

Seven-minute-long deep cut “Plastic” follows, capturing the sound of modern dance music. The lyrics deal with a superficial significant other, but the track combines with dark pounding synths and an upbeat tempo so it sounds like the track belongs in the next TRON movie.

Some of the best tracks on Music Complete bring in guest vocalists, like Brandon Flowers of The Killers in “Superheated” and Iggy Pop in “Stray Dog.” The contributions of these artists create some of the strongest tracks on Music Complete.

Unfortunately, New Order is still cemented in the past — Music Complete lacks any real experimentation. The album’s saving grace is its expert production, with mismatched but complimenting elements keeping tracks fresh.

Though nothing can compare to the timelessness of New Order’s early releases, Music Complete is still the band doing what they do best. Fans of the band and of ‘80s dance music will find a lot to love in this record.

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