by Stephanie Duncan
In an era where we're hard pressed to find simpler times to reminisce over, 80s revival has been in full-force for the better part of this decade. 90s revival too. However, big deal, New Order have been consistently pressing out new records since, technically speaking, the late 70s when they were Joy Division. Ian Curtis died in 1980 and from his ashes, New Order rose. Twenty-five years of music. That's dedication to a cause. Needless to say, they have influenced countless bands. Furthermore, this isn't a "comeback" like that Duran Duran's futile effort. On their eighth release, New Order has managed to maintain a certain freshness.
There's a surprising amount of love for undistorted guitars on "Who's Joe" and "Hey Now What You Doing". These tracks allow a little speculation as to whether or not they're really trying to be original or just coast along on their name, legend and past successes. These tracks show a lack of focus, a lack of inspiration and tend to lean more towards the bland side as a few others do. Peter Hook's driving bass-lines manage to push the music out of the mud and keep it going forward enough so that a person will keep listening. Unless you're really into 80s revival, you can just press the 'forward' button on your CD player and get to the title track. This is where the album burns brightly and shows New Order for the stars they are. One might say you hear influences of certain bands peppering the album but then you realizethese are the guys. They ARE the influences.
In keeping with a joyous nostalgia for happier times, Bernard Summer's voice is light, emotive and maintains a strangely boyish quality. "I Told You So" is laden with the synths you would expect from New Order but there's a vague reggae influence that hints slightly at a post-punk past. Overall, the lyrics are pithy but 'Morning Night and Day' suffers from a bland rhyming complex (I just want some action/Give me Satisfaction). But 'Jetstream' makes up for it mainly because I simply cannot argue with spelling in songs. 'Working Overtime' is a bit of a weak ending to the album, just kind of trailing off rather than ending things with a bang. It seems that New Order tends to play to their abilities but not the BEST of their abilities. The instrumentation lacks punch at times and occasionally falls slightly under mediocre. The effort isn't entirely solid, there are some rather rocky points but if you stick it out, it gets good again. They still managed to pull off a record that reminds us all of the 80s but still manages to be relevant to 2005.