New Order's 10th studio album Music Complete marks a change from their previous work.
Formed out of the remains of Joy Division in 1980, New Order have remained on the music scene for the past 35 years. Music Complete is the 10th studio album and the first release by the band since original bassist, Peter Hook, left the band in 2007. On this record, New Order have reintroduced Gillian Gilbert on keyboard and Tom Chapman has replaced Hook on bass.
The pretentiously named LP represents a movement for the band towards an arguably more modern sound. The decision to use Chemical Brother Tom Rowlands for some of the album production was a smart move by the band as it brings their music somewhat up to date. The introduction of recognisable guest vocalists including La Roux’s Elly Jackson, Iggy Pop and Brandon Flowers shows an effort to remain relevant among current chart artists. However, many fans will no doubt rather listen to some of their previous releases, such as Power, Corruption & Lies, in which New Order shine on their own.
The album opens well with the previously released single ‘Restless,’ which confidently combines the post-punk, melancholic lyrics that fans expect from New Order with the rhythmic guitar and electronic beat. However, while memorable the opening track is far from a lyrical masterpiece with “I want a nice car, a girlfriend who’s as pretty as a star” particularly standing out as testament to this. The Blue Monday-esque ‘Plastic’ follows a couple of tracks later and is far more what you would expect from the band, which works in their favour. The standout track of the album is ‘Tutti Frutti’, which is evidence of how good New Order can be when they merge new and old correctly. Elly Jackson’s vocals add a nice new dimension to the song, but unfortunately it suffers from being a bit too long, and just becomes repetitive towards the end. The same can be said for most of the album, as with the shortest track being 4.19 the LP is in need of some shorter snappy numbers to mix things up a bit and keep listeners interested. The oddest track on the album easily goes to ‘Stray Dog,’ which is a mixture of a steady electronic beat behind Iggy Pop’s bizarre spoken word. Honestly, it felt like a Jack Daniels advert.
Music Complete is certainly not an album that should be written off without a listen as no doubt some people will love this new sound from the band. However, the album is something that will probably appeal more to new fans than older ones as it draws more on their electronic music roots. What is good about the album is although it may seem to be a few steps behind other dance music of 2015, it is a refreshing change for the band and doesn’t hide among their back catalogue. Whether it stands out in a good way or a bad way is something that is up for debate.
Music Complete is out now via Mute Records.