A decade has now passed since New Order’s last record, 2005’s underwhelming Waiting For The Sirens Call; 25% inspiration, 75% perspiration.
In the interim, bassist Peter Hook quit the band acrimoniously and formed a Joy Division/New Order tribute band Peter Hook and the Light whilst what remained of the band continued to occasionally tour in front of adoring festival crowds, released an odd’s and sods album composed of Sirens leftovers and frontman Bernard Sumner briefly dabbled with side project Bad Lieutenant.
Also during this period, the iconic status bestowed upon both Joy Division and New Order continued to grow unabated. The music and the myth were immortalized on screen in Anton Corbijn’s acclaimed, austere biopic Control (2007), their long time champion and maligned patron of all things Manchester – Mr Tony Wilson – passed away, original keyboardist Gillian Gilbert rejoined and both Sumner and Hook published autobiographies of differing levels of veracity and disillusionment.
So with their legend secured, what is the point of New Order releasing a new album in the year 2015, 34 years after the band first formed from the ashes of Joy Division? What can they offer? And why did they sign a new record deal? Well, chums…perhaps the answer lands somewhere between opportunism and idealism but that could be said of most career musicians over the age of 40 with rent to pay and kids to feed. I would like to think they signed with Mute Records because of the label’s own uncompromising ideals embodied by founder Daniel Miller who created Mute to release his own strange electronic music in the late 1970’s. Mute have dipped their toes in the pop mainstream -Depeche Mode, Moby , Erasure, Goldfrapp – but have remained a sanctuary for the more offbeat – Fad Gadget, Wire, Nick Cave, Liars, Throbbing Gristle – and those who inhabit the grey lines between musical categories.
With their new album Music Complete now available to pre-order and due on the 25th of September, a few thrilling snippets are now online to whet the appetite and revive the mystery and as brief as they are, the energy contained easily surpass the mostly workmanlike motions of their last album. will it be a classic New Order album or just slightly above average? maybe with Gilbert restored and Hook out of the picture, the inspiration to perspiration ratio could be reversed but you just never know with this most frustrating and human musical outfit.