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Thursday, 8 October 2015

Restlessly


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.

9 comments:

drew said...

Great post SA, will now have to listen to the album. Prior to this post I had no interest in hearing it whatsoever apart from the Weatherall mix, of course. It's not New Order without Hooky as far as I'm concerned.

drew said...

I've now listened to the Weatherall mix and to be honest it's a bit meh, as my nephew would say. Not bad but nothing brilliant.

Any idea when these singles are coming out on Weatherall's new label?

Swiss Adam said...

There's been a delay with the test pressings and the vinyl plant was the last I heard. Didn't surprise too much.

lisa Donati said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
lisa Donati said...

Ah . . I needed that, my thoughts were as clear as mud til I read this. Now I get it, it's comfy. Established comfy.

Swiss Adam said...

That's nailed it Lisa.

anto said...

your all wrong. it's brilliant. end of. apart from FLowers's's involvement. And the bronski beat bit. and the sound of a band ripping themselves off. other than that, it's incredible

Echorich said...

I'm with you SA. Only track that captures my attention on Music Complete is Plastic. It claims to involve La Rue and maybe the fact that I can't even tell she's in there makes it better that it should have been.
New Order is a fractured band. They have every right to keep making music, but like a building after an earthquake, it's not really a sound foundation any longer. I'm not expecting some sort of career reassessing musical offering, but as Waiting For The Siren Calls foreshadowed, the days of New Order making music of consequence is likely in the past.
Oh and Drew is right, it's never going to be New Order without Hooky for me either - hell it really wasn't New Order without GIllian either.

acidted said...

Great post. I need no other review now.