While the world waits for Peter Hook and the rest of New Order to finally patch up their differences and stop being quite so bitter, all we – and they – have is their back catalogue. The last full-length album Waiting for the Sirens’ Call was released this week a decade ago.
Opening track Who’s Joe? reveals a different sounding New Order to the one we encountered on Get Ready (2001). The rock overtones are still strong – the openly electronic indie sounds of the 1980s are long gone – but they seem to have found a new confidence somewhere. Bernard Sumner‘s vocals are stronger than before, and the whole sound is more cohesive. Even the lyrics – often a weak point for Sumner – seem to have some meaning behind them.
New Order have long struggled with albums – indeed, much of their back catalogue is best listened to as a single – but Waiting for the Sirens’ Call feels unusually complete. Hey Now What You Doing may sound more like Monaco than New Order in many ways, but it’s a strong second track, although it does see Sumner rhyming “hate” with “gate”, which I suspect wouldn’t have happened with Peter Hook‘s side project.
The third single and title track follows, treading more familiar New Order ground and, perhaps surprisingly, making it one of the weaker songs on the album. Then comes the first single Krafty, which isn’t bad by any means, but does seem an ill-advised choice to launch a release. Get Ready was heralded by the sublime Crystal, but I really can’t see anyone dashing out to buy an album on the strength of Krafty. Still, everyone who was going to buy it was probably already on their way to the shops anyway, so why not do something unexpected?
The brilliant electro-ska stylings of I Told You So follow, easily the best track on the album. At this point you realise the transition that’s taken place – the first couple of tracks were very rock-based, then there was a bit of Monaco, and now this could easily fit on the second Electronic album. Clearly a bit of rifling through the back catalogue has been going on here.
Morning Night & Day and Dracula’s Castle follow, both pleasant but a little forgettable, before the brilliant second single Jetstream, with Ana Matronic, although the album version does lack the punch of Richard X‘s production which makes the single version so good.
The catchy songs continue with Guilt is a Useless Emotion, perhaps not the most meaningful song ever, but a fun little synthpop piece which is entirely welcome, then Turn sees a return to the more indie feel of earlier songs. It also closes the Singles collection which was released later the same year, but on there it feels somewhat out of place alongside the rest of their back catalogue.
The closing track is aptly called Working Overtime, as it does seem to have a certain weariness about it. It’s an odd way to close an album, particularly one which had been going so well up to now – it’s tempting to wonder how many people press stop when this comes on, particularly given how good Turn was. But that’s a minor quibble with such a good album.
It’s difficult to know what might happen next with New Order – I suspect this might be a common feeling, but I for one don’t want to see them release anything without Peter Hook. At the same time, when their last new material was as good as this, it would be good to hear something new from them. Time will tell.
You can still find Waiting for the Sirens’ Call at all major online retailers, such as here.