2015 is shaping up to be a great year for artists from the ‘80s. I have to be honest, I went into New Order’s “Music Complete” their tenth studio album with some cynicism and lowered expectations. The last two albums (“Waiting for the Siren’s Call” and “Lost Sirens”) felt forced, like they were trying to purposefully recapture something that was being lost with time. Quickly into “Music Complete” my cynicism turned to optimism, then wonder and awe. Overall, this is an optimistic record about gluttony and narcissism.
It seems as bands age, they lose something along the way. Music Complete is the exception to this rule. Here Peter Hook, New Order’s original bassist is the only thing that is missing and that might have been good for the band to move forward.
“Music Complete” builds like a storm that at times feels dangerous, electric, refreshing and beautiful -- all at once. Who would want to stop something this exhilarating even at this late stage in their storied history? Better to just sit back and enjoy. “Music Complete” feels like it came about naturally and was meant to be.
Lead singer Sumner reminds that it is, “One day at a time. Inch by inch.” “Singularity” is a bombastic barnstormer that reminds us that life is hard, we are all in this together, so it’s best to make it a good ride.
The lyrics throughout are socially conscience and of the moment dealing with issues facing today’s fiscally out of balance society. In “Restless” they wisely warn, “It’s not hopeless. If you take less -- an optimistic anthem about gluttony and their best single since “Crystal” in 2000.
In "Plastic", Sumner asks with urgency, "How much do you need?" There's a lot of Moroder/Donna Summer's "I Feel Love" in the synth patterns underlying the central message that we live in an age of extreme narcissism. For those in that state of mind it "Feels good, it feels good, it feels so good" to be that way for about a minute. The Kardashians should give it a listen.
“Music Complete” is New Order’s most experimental since 1989’s “Technique.” They have never really tackled and approached disco like they do here, but on this effort they have incorporated some of that genre’s “techniques” in new and exciting ways.
“Music Complete” is very “Technique” through the spoken word of Iggy Pop on “Stray Dog” and the Frankie Goes to Hollywood style stomp of “Tutti Frutti”. The production is warm and has girth. The synths feel three dimensional, thick, and full of life -- not hollow like a lot of today’s electronic music.
Throughout the excellent "People On The Highline", Sumner and Elly Jackson from La Roux repeat the line, "I'll Keep Trying". For New Order, "Music Complete" would be a end to their storied career, but I have a feeling that they will keep trying. "Music Complete" is perfection -- and my favorite album of 2015 thus far. Buy it now on Mute Records.