In recent years New Order has had more bad blood and dirty linen out in public than a C-grade horror flick. When bassist, Peter Hook left in 2007 a public slanging match ensued and his band mates would reform without him. He did hit back by performing their old albums with Joy Division and New Order under a new guise and writing two memoirs. And so we enter chapter 57 of this saga and one that could be called “The New Cash Cow”.
Lost Sirens is the band’s ninth studio record. It is a mini-album of outtakes from their underwhelming swansong, Waiting For the Sirens’ Call. It is just eight songs and one is a remix of a track from Sirens while another is an alternate version of ‘Hellbent’ from the recent, Total Best Of compilation. So talk about the words, “Scraping the bottom of the barrel”.
The fact is that these songs are on par with the Sirens material but this can be a good and bad thing. The record was originally recorded in 2003-2004 in a series of expensive sessions where Phil Cunningham replaced Gillian Gilbert who had left to take care of both hers and drummer, Stephen Morris’ daughter. The music was typical of New Order’s 21st century material in that they were dense and guitar-driven songs with occasional nods towards some earlier nostalgia via the synth. It was also a mixed bag in terms of quality and highly unlikely to influence anyone in the same way as those past, glory days.
‘I’ll Stay with You’ has some fizzy guitars from Bernard Sumner, while ‘Sugarcane’ is all glittery synth that pounds, dances and drives a disco number about rock star excesses. The rest of the tracks are polished in terms of production but ‘Recoil’ is a down-beat slow-burner and ‘Californian Grass’ borrows one too many guitar riffs from U2.
A case of lost potential is evident in ‘Shake It Up’. The music is fantastic with guitars that slam and elements that are expansive, melodic and catchy. But the biggest drawback is the tiresome and repetitive lyrics. Consider: “Shake it up, yeah/You can make it real if you want it…You can turn the wheel if you wanna”. Please.
Lost Sirens is a collection that will win over the completist and more devout New Order fans but in reality it would’ve been better placed as an accompanying disc of bonus material. It does sound half-complete and can be a let-down in parts but then half-baked New Order material does have a tendency to outshine at least some of the recent competition. They were after all, a talented singles band that produced some absolute classic hits right up into the naughties. So maybe we should just hope that the group makes up, otherwise it won’t be a fine time for anyone.
Originally published on 9 March 2013 at the following website: http://www.thedwarf.com.au/album_review/new-order-lost-sirens-1
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