30 The Him (1981)You can understand why Movement is seen as less of a footnote to the career of Joy Division than the debut album of New Order – it really is – but that doesn’t mean that it’s not good. A great Joy Division track would have been rendered by The Him’s surges; the lyrics that aim to make sense of the death of frontman Ian Curtis of Joy Division in 1980 are strong and heartbreaking.
Confusion (1983)Considered a poor sequel to Blue Monday at the time – and later re-recorded for the 1987 Drug compilation – Confusion has strengthened with age: its humid, charmless electro embrace demonstrates the influence of the band’s New York nightlife.
New Order has sporadically come up with brilliant instrumentals for Murder (1984) (see also: Elegia and the experimental video 586).
A especially thrilling, dramatic instance is Murder: it features thundering drums and eerie, needling guitars reminiscent of the sound of Joy Division, plus 2001 dialogue samples: A Space Odyssey and Caligula.
Shellshock (1986)Shellshock is a rare thing: the overload of stuttering n-n-nineteen samples and the synth sounds on the 12in version label it as a result of its time – a New Order single that has not aged particularly well.
But on the song itself, which is fantastic, guided by a compelling, anthemic chorus, that does not reflect badly. 26. Waiting For the Call of the Sirens (2005)The eponymous album was a disappointment and potentially the artistic nadir of New Order. The music is not bad, but uninspired and workmanlike; the lyrics, on the other hand, are mostly abysmal.
But thanks to a beautiful melody and a wistful voice from Bernard Sumner, the title track – the only album track New Order recorded – shines. Fine Time (1989)A perplexing choice for Technique’s first single – mostly instrumental, without much melody – Fine Time is nonetheless incredibly exciting: a pushing, clanking rhythm track, acid house squeals, sampled vocals.
“The remix of Steve “Silk” Hurley made it into streamlined, simple house music, but part of the appeal is the idiosyncrasies of New Order’s approach to the genre. 24. 24.
As It Is When It Was (1986)The back catalog of New Order is not especially rich in acoustic ballads, but a fine example is As It Is When It Was – an understated highlight from Brotherhood.
Not least for the reckless coolness of guitarist and keyboardist Gillian Gilbert, who performs the whole thing with her back to the crowd, a slightly rockier live version of the Pumped Full of Drugs video is worth a look.
Sub-Culture (1985)It is the edited edition of the 12in mix of Sub-Culture that you can find on Substance that you need to hear without having to be too detailed. The original Low-Life is a little limp, a little bit of the complete 12in, but the edit is perfect: the vocals polished so that the melody shines, the whole thing began with a thrilling burst of sampled drums. Elegia (1985)The band’s Stephen Morris told an interviewer years after this instrumental tribute to Curtis appeared on Low-Life that it had been cut down from a 17-minute original. When it actually appeared – on the 2002 box set Retro – it turned out to be a masterpiece, not carelessness: driving, moving, and beautifully stunning, like nothing else in the oeuvre of New Order.
Restless (2015)It is safe to say that the last thing most people expected from the fresh, post-Peter Hook iteration of New Order was their best album since Technique, but as the guitar-heavy opener Restless proves, that’s exactly what Music Complete was.
It’s more concentrated and strong in decades than anything the band has done. 20. Funky but gloomy and troubled, Everything’s Gone Green (1981) Everything’s Gone Green was a transitional song used by New Order to explore the dancefloor before coming out of the shadow of their former band entirely. “Those interested in “what ifs” would think that if they persisted and consumed the same club music influences, it was what Joy Division would have sounded like. 18. 18. 18.
Round & Round (1989)The second single of Technique opens with an eruption of house-influenced sampled orchestral stabs, but it’s the opposite of the frantic chaos of Fine Time – in its poppiness, the chorus is almost Abba-esque.
The voice of Sumner floats languidly through the backdrop, while the output of Hook is a master lesson on how he reinvented the bass as a lead instrument that colors rather than drives the song.
Lonesome Tonight (1984)In de de Lonesome Tonight