Top positive review
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One that has improved with the passage of time.
on 23 February 2003
New Order have frequently produced patchy albums- Movement, Brotherhood & the recent Get Ready!; but coming back to Republic a decade later I tend to forgive its mediocre moments & have to admit that for the most part it's pretty great.
It came at an all-time low in the New Order camp, Factory & the Hacienda had gone & the band were not communicating very well- which may explain why several tracks sound more like Electronic/Pet Shop Boys than New Order. Producer Stephen Hague's influence is overly-apparent, single World (The Price of Love) is quite pleasant, but could easily have featured on Electronic's debut. It's just not New Order enough- Peter Hook was vocally unhappy about it when I saw them play it at the downbeat Reading93 performance that almost saw the band vanish.
The album does feature some downbeat classics, which suggested that the band were starting to look back towards the legacy of Joy Division- something that would be seen in the years to come: Monaco playing Failures, the existence of the book Touching from a Distance, the Heart & Soul Box-Set of 1997. Ruined in a Day, Everyone Everywhere & Special are all in this mode & easily stand out as highlights.
Spooky & Young Offender continue the club-sound of New Order, the former one of the great New Order singles that appear to have been written out of history (the latter is very Pet Shop Boys, even sharing a title with a track on PSB's 1993 album Very). Perhaps they ought to re-record this, get Hooky to sing the backing vocals...Liar is another favourite, though the soulful backing vocals are possibly as distracting as those on the Subculture 12" or songs like Brutal. "You've got your finger on the pulse & in my pocket, oh of course..." is a cutting lyric looking towards Tony Wilson & the glum state of things resulting from the Factory fall-out (which is not really got across in the upbeat film 24 Hour Party People).
Chemical is a bit of an out-take, sounding a bit New Order by numbers: a too familiar Hook-style bassline & a too-Electronic sense of music. Times Change is a better song, but still too Pet Shop Boys/Electronic- it should sound more like Your Silent Face but is more Liberation (it even has a Feel Every Beat-style rap); the keyboards are quite amazing though- making you think of rushing in the sun, an idea that this is heaven (so why does it feel like a hell?). The album concludes on the odd instrumental Avalanche, which sounds like the meeting point of As You Said & Cocteau Twins- easily sitting up there with 1985's Elegia.
Republic is an album that I'm quite fond of, which may account for a star or two more than it truly warrants, it's no Technique or Low Life, but what is?