As used to be customary after major New Order albums, they basically imploded after Waiting for the Sirens’ Call. They had had a pretty good year, closing it out with their brilliantly comprehensive Singles compilation, and there was an extensive tour, but then in May 2007, things got very confusing. As you probably remember, Peter Hook appeared in an interview and said that New Order had split up, to which the rest of the band responded, “no we didn’t,” and we’ve now been treated to a decade or so of Hook moaning about how badly he was treated while the rest of them seem to put their fingers in their ears and sing “la la la, I’m not listening”. There are some real issues there, but it all comes across as very childish.
It took another six years for Lost Sirens to appear, but it’s pretty amazing that it did. Plugging the gap firmly between Waiting for the Sirens’ Call, when they had Peter Hook, and Music Complete, when they no longer did, you get this. It opens with I’ll Stay with You, which is comfortably better than most of the tracks on the preceding album. It’s a great, catchy song, with some great contributions from Hook.
Even Sugarcane, hinting somewhat at some of Bernard Sumner‘s dafter lyrical moments, is still another catchy and memorable song. What’s notable here is that whereas the parent album was gloomy and rock-infused, this is positively chirpy.
Recoil gives us a more acoustically-focused piece, with some great (electric?) piano work alongside Hook’s unforgettable bass lines. If this had been the last album New Order ever recorded together, it would have been an excellent way to leave – think what you like of Music Complete, the end of the Peter Hook era definitely left listeners on a high. You just have to put emotions to one side – a bit like being in a band, really.
I think California Grass is probably my favourite track on here. It’s also the most rock-sounding, with some relatively big guitars, but they stay subdued and hold back on too much extreme wankery. It just feels like an epic coastal road trip song, somehow.
This is a compilation at heart though, and the track listing is appropriately odd. Hellbent, which snuck out on a compilation a couple of years earlier, is good, but it’s not great. Shake it Up starts off sounding like one of Electronic‘s better moments, but ultimately fails to deliver, particularly once the wah-wah turns up. “I read your book from front to cover,” must surely be up there among Sumner’s worst lyrics ever?
I’ve Got a Feeling is better – it starts off particularly promisingly, although things fall apart quickly during the verse, and despite a catchy chorus, it still sounds a bit generic. The first half of this mini-album was definitely better than the second. To close things out, I Told You So was up there with Jetstream as one of the best tracks on the last album, and now we get a remix of it, the Crazy World mix. It’s huge, epic, and… well, very disappointing. In this century, the guitar-based version of New Order simply isn’t as good as the electronic version. So roll on Music Complete, the album where for the first time in a long time, they really understood who they were, and did it well.
For all my misgivings, Lost Sirens is a pretty good release, and I’m glad we got it, even somewhat belatedly. Is it better than Waiting for the Sirens’ Call? Well, they’re probably about the same, but this does at least have a nice stack of uplifting tracks at the start, which can’t be said for its predecessor.
You can find Lost Sirens at all major retailers.