New Order – Music Complete
(Released September 25th, 2015)
I owe it to this review to separate one relative fact immediately. This album not including iconic bassist, Peter Hook, is taken from an objective standpoint. Hook’s bass style is unique, highly respected, and let’s just say you can tell a difference in this album. However, that is omitting that as it’s the only fair way to do this.
Also to note, I have been a fan of New Order since I was in middle school and Depeche Mode’s Violator was a new album (as respectively as New Order’s Republic). This will always take objectively considering you can’t span over 3 decades of music without some “ehh” songs, which are relative critiques to begin with. Now to get to the meat of the review.
Music Complete’s album opener, “Restless”, is honestly a bit of a snoozer. Bernard Sumner’s vocals lack his usual energy and while the song is a very nice relaxing song, it doesn’t seem to fit the idea around this album as “New Order’s new era”. One strong positive on this song, however, is some artistic maturity in Sumner’s lyrics.
“Singularity” is the song the album might have been better starting with it. The song begins with a gradual crescendo of Joy Division-ish style (without key bassist Peter Hook, that is) and then progresses to an energetic, mature song that I rather like a lot.
The fourth song, “Tutti Frutti” is one that I don’t’ think I can fairly comment on. It could be something where hardcore fans react the way I reacted when Cold (rock) released “Stupid Girl”, a song co-written by Weezer that really did not fit the band at all. I will say that the album seems to have an atmosphere of Sumner wanting to be taken more seriously. However, with a song titled this and the first few measures resembling modern teen pop, I think it is a couple steps backward. However, that’s for you to decide.
“Stray Dog”, track number six, is an interesting mix with trademark New Order sound with a definite influence and melting of Pet Shop Boys’ post-2000 sound style. I think the song would have been fantastic without the Sin City-ish spoken lines. While what he is saying is interesting, I prefer my spoken word to the likes of Recoil (ex-Depeche Mode, Alan Wilder), Massive Attack, and similar.
It can certainly be agreed on that it could mark a new era in New Order that’s not necessarily bands. I have a very strong belief that bands need to evolve, stretch, mutate, and so on in order to remain fresh and on top of their own trademark. It’s been agreed on in many professional reviews spanning decades of any band that people don’t want to hear the same album made again. Then again, some popular music “acts” make me question how true this is for the majority of music listeners. Then again, music is here for us to be subjective, enjoy or dislike, transform it into something that means something to ourselves on a very personal level.
Overall, I certainly wouldn’t call this album a snoozer because I think I need to get accustomed to it. Such as the slowed chorus of “The Game”, track number ten, there is something darker and new there. To be honest, the quicker tempo slowing in the chorus reminds me a lot of Alan Wilder influenced Depeche Mode arrangements, something he continues on his own in Recoil. Whether Peter Hook not being on this album or not was necessary for them to “update their sound”, not to mention the feud between Hook and Sumner, it is extremely noticeable that this album is missing Hook’s trademark guitar-style basslines.