Saturday, May 03, 2014

LP of the Week - "Brotherhood," New Order (1986)

Back in 1980, when New Order rose from the ashes of Joy Division following the suicide of lead singer Ian Curtis, you could have gotten really good odds on whether there would still being a working band called "New Order" more than 30 years later.  But even though they've broken up a couple of times and made a couple of personnel changes, they're still out there, even releasing an album every few years.

What the band proved in the 1980s was that Joy Division was not a one-man show.  Rightfully so, that band has come to be associated with Curtis' dark, brooding and frankly scary vocals, but even then, the music was just as important to the sound of the band as the vocals and the words.  Wikipedia refers to New Order's sound as a synthesis of post-punk and electronic dance music, and while that is perhaps oversimplifying things a bit, it's essentially correct.

"Brotherhood" was their best album, the album where they sounded most human.  There isn't a bad track on the LP, but there are three standouts.  On the first side, "Broken Promise" builds to a climax of guitar feedback and pulsing bass and drums that still makes my heart race almost 30 years later, and on the album's closer "Every Little Counts," the band proves that yes, it does have a sense of humor  But the highlight of "Brotherhood" is the song that I'd argue is the best they ever did, and one of the greatest singles of any era you might be tempted to choose - "Bizarre Love Triangle."  Again, Peter Hook's pulsating bass drives the music, until the end when Gillian Gilbert lays down one of the most beautiful synthesizer lines in rock history.  It's one of those songs that, were it released today, would sound innovative, new and fresh.  Just like it did back then.

The band has released a number of compilations over the years, many featuring various remixes of their most popular songs.  But if you want to dive into New Order, "Brotherhood" is as good a place as any to start.

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