I was happy because they had been one of my favourite bands since the late ’80s, and I had simply adored their last releases. But I felt uncertain because they had progressed in such diverse ways, that it would surely affect their collective output.
Then they released the ridiculously-titled album ‘Get Ready’, which defecated such ill-conceived material as “Rock The Shack”. It was New Order vaguely trying to be New Order – much like U2 are sounding quite like U2 wannabes themselves these days.
Fast forward to four years later; they returned with ‘Waiting For The Sirens’ Call’, after officially changing their line-up for the first time since NO rose from the ashes of Joy Division.
Not only was the thought of replacing Gillian an unpalatable one, but exchanging her keyboards for an extra guitar didn’t bode well – clearly New Order were planning to be a rock band now, instead of the pop/rock/electronica confection that we had sunk our teeth into over the years.
And, sadly, this is exactly what they’ve become.
It was bad enough that they had covered the reggae-tinged “Vietnam” between albums, but now they are penning odes to the working-man – a Bob Seger thing to do if anything. Not that there’s anything wrong with that per se, but the last thing anyone wants to hear is NO regurgitating material like “Who’s Joe?”, “Working Overtime” or “Krafty” (which, despite the somewhat New Order-ish title is yet another ditty about joys of the 9 to 5 grind).
I suppose that this is exactly what they’ve become, however: everyday middle-aged men struggling to rake in a pound or two to pay their mortgages. Otherwise, why would they release so many bloody cash-cow compilations? They’ve thrown together an official ‘best of’ after each of their last three albums – how sad is that?
Their midlife concerns are even becoming apparent in their image: it’s starting to rub off in Peter’s dirty uncle look (you know… the one that should never be left unmonitored with your children), and it shows in Bernard’s ever swelling gut – which he laughably tries to dance around in a risible leg-flop only bested by John Cleese during his Monty Python days.
That’s not to say that the album is a complete loss – it’s got it moments. But it’s generic enough to make you wonder about the quality of all the extra material that they felt ‘inspired’ enough to record – which was uninspiring enough to leave off of ‘Waiting For The Sirens’ Call’, but is scheduled to see the light of day in music stores very soon anyway.
Honestly, with their return and change of line-up, the boys should have changed their name for a second time and kept our memories unblemished. Now, to be consistent with the previous two, a Nazi reference would be in order… Thus I submit: The Third Blecch.
I give it a rapidly waning 6 out of 10