Sunday 27 September 2015

Review by Alex Hales of "Music Complete" by New Order

Well, now I don’t know what to think; over the last seven months since I bought the ticket, I’ve been eagerly anticipating a gig by Peter Hook & The Light, a chance to hear some long-time and very warmly-regarded music given a punchy reworking by a man who, although really genial and engaging, has spent the last eight years moaning ferociously about his erstwhile colleagues.

Music Complete, the new New Order album has come out this week and though I expected little, I took the plunge because I couldn’t bear the idea of there being New Order songs I hadn’t heard. I’ve been here before, of course, dashing out to buy Get Ready when it came out, and I still feel that appraisals of that LP – then and now – are a little too charitable.  Maybe the reviewers have heard something I have not, and maybe Hooky was therefore right to cast aspersions on the validity of a New Order in 2015.

What use a new album? What do they mean to anyone?  Is it a desperate imbroglio to recoup what was pissed away on the Hacienda and Dry? If so, the people who chopped and murmured their way through Blue Monday during a ToTP performance in 1983 have unquestionably paid their dues, and in a few days’ time I will experience for myself the thunderous renditions which Hooky gives to the old numbers.

And then I stick on the album. Restless is N.O.-by-numbers, albeit replete with arresting swathes signalling Gillian’s return; the icy blast of Singularity comes over all Joy Divisiony at the beginning (specifically, Insight and Shadowplay) but it is with Tutti Frutti and People On The High Line where the jaw really drops and the comparisons drawn are not with New Order’s earlier work, but with Chic, or Earth Wind & Fire. And it doesn’t let up there.

In summary, Music Complete is New Order’s most engaging record in donkeys’ years, and by a country mile; I’ll let you know next week if Hooky mentions it on stage, or if there are any clamours for its songs during the set.

About the reviewer
Alex Hales is a 42-year-old Southampton resident of occasionally amicable manner, enervated by the intransigence of dogmatism.

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