Thursday, 8 October 2015
This is the Andrew Weatherall remix of the ever-so-slightly underwhelming New Order single Restless, out on Friday, green vinyl and download. Weatherall keeps Bernard's vocal and adds some echo to it, takes off the semi-acoustic guitars, sticks a thumping big kick drum underneath and adds one of those squiggly arpeggios in he's so fond of. There's a guitar line to the fore at two and a half minutes that brings a certain bass guitarist to mind. Breakdown with synths. Slashing great guitar chords halfway through and the thumping beat returns. It certainly kicks you about a bit when listened to loud.
I've been living, on and off, with Music Complete for a fortnight now and here's my tuppence of thoughts for what they're worth. The press have been largely very positive ('their best album since Technique/in twentyfive years'- a somewhat mixed acolade given they only released three albums in that time and one, Waiting For The Siren's Call, was an utter stinker and another was made as Factory collapsed around them). Many of the fans have been gushing all over various internet sites- and I'm sorry but I really cannot take seriously anyone who says that there are songs on Music Complete that in New Order's top five ever. The album has some positives though- many of the songs do sound alive, energised, a band who wanted to make an album again and were set on making it sound good. And it does sound good- the production is good, the programming is top notch, the synths are there, the guitar playing hits the spot. On some of the songs there's a real sense that this is New Order and they sound better than we might have expected. There are songs here that sound massive, that make the miles disappear and the years slip away.
On the other hand, too many of the songs are a bit formulaic (intro, verse, chorus, verse, chorus, break, verse, chorus, fade). Most of them go on too long, almost all them hit the five minute mark and some go over six for no real reason. The Iggy Pop song doesn't work, at least not in the context of the album. Interesting experiment but that's about it. If I wanted to hear Brandon Flowers singing (which I don't) I'd buy a Killers album (which I won't). The biggest issue for me is that they aren't moving forward, they're chasing their own sound- one song deliberately echoes Fine Time- or other people's- I Feel Love mainly. What this album ends up sounding like is a well done, glossed up version of all the New Order side projects combined, Electronic, Bad Lieutenant and The Other Two with side helpings of Pet Shop Boys and The Chemical Brothers. In fact what it sounds like mainly is a Bernard Sumner solo album with Stephen and Gillian taking part. And I can't help but feel that Bernard's got what he's wanted since sometime in the mid-to-late 80s, which is an album without any creative tension and a bass player who does what he's told and plays the root notes. God knows, they don't have anything to prove in terms of making groundbreaking art- they did more than almost any other band since 1981 to move the artform forward and redefine it. So while I can enjoy Music Complete in parts, I can't help but feel there's something missing.