When New Order mounted a comeback in 2001 after a hiatus of 8 years I was glad to see them, but other than Crystal and 60 Miles an hour, honestly the album left me cold. However, Music Complete seems to be the comeback I was waiting for.
Restless is a catchy pop single about not feeling like you fit in with this ever changing world, and being left cold when the weight of the world is heavier than your own expectations of life. It’s cheery apathy which questions can just a taste of love sustain you and can we achieve our impossible dreams in a world that tries at every time to prevent you from doing so.
Singularity harks back to the bands origins in Joy Division with a bass line so reminiscent of Shadowplay I was half convinced it was a Joy Division song I’d never heard. It recalls the best of their past work whilst giving a knowing nod to their past. Singularity is about attraction, but also about trying to escape from the prescribed roles and moving on with our lives one day at a time. It’s a song about recognising and remembering your past, but not being bound by it and letting it define your present or future.
One day at a time/Inch by inch/For every kiss/On lovers’ lips/For all lost souls/Who can’t come home/Friends, not here/We shared our tears.
Plastic examines the superficiality of attraction, the confusion of love with lust and how love can be an intoxicating poison. The song turns completely around in the end, starting off with showering the object of his desire with praise, to a middle act of uncertainty in the tumult of all of these emotions when Bernard Sumner sings “If you break me, will you fix me?/And if I’m missing, will you miss me?” The song ends with the realisation of the artificiality of his love interest and him leaving her behind.
Stray Dog features Iggy Pop’s inimitable drawling narration like a Faustian pact in a boxcar with bootleg liquor. The song’s about unconditional love, alcoholism and the temporariness of love and how sometimes love is the act of staying in one place when our bodies and lives just want to move on, no matter how good our intentions are.
The album is dark, brooding and industrial yet still great electronic pop, recalling both early New Order and the more pop side of the band. The title “Music Complete” is apt, as this feels like the band’s most complete and accomplished album in years, and is a real return to form.
Monthly music columnist for the Kirkby Extra, sometimes article writer for Get Into This. Freelance writer/artist/maker.