New Order, “Music Complete”
For their first full LP in a decade—and Bernard Sumner’s first work without Peter Hook since 1978—New Order find sunnier skies, faster disco mixes, friends from the past and present (Iggy Pop, Brandon Flowers, Chemical Brothers’ Tom Rowlands, La Roux’s Elly Jackson), and an all-around boldly hypnotic sound. The results of this passionate dispassion (that’s their thing) could make for one of their stronger albums. “Singularity” has the menacing metallic vibe of early, pre-dance-y New Order, while the trance-like “Plastic” and its cleanly somnambulistic arpeggios and sequenced rhythms is nothing but dance of the highest order. That’s the division within Music Complete: while tracks such as “People on the High Line” and “Tutti Frutti” leap between old fashioned Euro disco and cold funk, “Stray Dog” is straight existentialist drone punk. It’s an interesting mix that reminds you why you cared about New Order in the first place. Oh, and Sumner never got better as a lyricist, but he didn’t get worse. Small victory, that.