New Order - Brotherhood
I never listened to a New Order album after this. They were now careering out of control down the path to electronic dance techno-pop nightmare (or wherever). Dance music has never been substantial enough to base a career on - by its very definition it is ephemeral even more so than any other modern music - and New Order had succumbed to the false promise that it held out, promises of fame and wealth, neither of which really came their way to the extent they had hoped for. I suppose this was a sad end to a glittering opening few tracks of a promising career.
The album itself is flawed but is a forerunner of what eventually come to be identified as the New Order sound on Technique. The problem is with that style is that it does not suit any themes of any weight. "All Day Long", apparently about child abuse, makes you wince - not a good reaction. A much more common, even inevitable consequence if the style adopted is saccharine sweet, silly refrains and chants. This only adds to the feeling of transience you get when listening to this.
I guess that, like many in a similar position, this album marked the point at which I gave up on New Order. It was the point at which New Order dropped any pretence of maintaining a post-punk stance. To people like myself, for whom post-punk was the ambrosia of my early twenties, the approach taken by New Order was akin to putting them beyond the fold of my appreciation. I realise how intolerant that sounds, but if I wanted to listen to dance music there were a thousand other bands out there who did it, many of them far better at it than New Order. Why then would I continue with New Order out of anything other than nostalgia or a sorely misplaced sense of loyalty? Oddly, they did produce one more single, "True Faith" which did tip the lance, more out of respect than intent I suspect, to their post-punk roots. That was indeed the last thing by New Order I ever purchased.
Perhaps the other problem was that New Order, as individuals, were never that good as musicians, with the possible exception of Peter Hook. By the mid eighties they had begun to cover up the deficiencies in their musical ability by increasing reliance on machines. Machines, by their very nature, lend themselves to dance music owing to their infallibility at creating a steady beat, and their fallibility in failing to infuse the sound with any emotion. It was therefore inevitable that New Order's use of machines as a dominant force, rather than as a supplementary enhancement, would lead them down the sterile path of dance music.
Of course there are some good moments, and "Bizarre Love Triangle" is probably the most notable. But when the band inserts a few lines from "Love Will Tear Us Apart" at the end of "Way of Life" you begin to realise that the band lost more than their frontman when Ian Curtis died - they lost their soul and their direction. That act is, you suspect, a recognition of that fact. New Order had to distance themselves from Joy Division if they were to retain any shred of credibility. And in using those lines in this way, it seems as if they felt they were now truly able to bid farewell to the ghosts of Ian Curtis and Joy Division. I can't fault them for that, but even though it was around this time that I got to see New Order in concert for the first and only time, I would forever long for the days when they were a cutting edge post-punk outfit. The band they had become was not to my musical taste.
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on 2011-04-30 CharlesMartel Said:
I really hated this when I first got it, but I have mellowed since. It is still not a great album but, in places at least, it is better than I originally thought.