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3.8 out of 5 stars
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3.8 out of 5 stars
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on 22 February 2013
There was no reason to expect that these songs would be even half-good. The 8 years since the last album have seen two new compilations, one so-so side project (Bad Lieutenant) and one actively terrible one (Freebass), some unnecessary 12-inch vinyl single remixes, a set of botched album remasters, and worst of all, a public fall-out that puts the lie to the phrase 'there's no such thing as bad publicity'. Not for me to speculate on the reasons for the split, but Peter Hook, who used to be my favourite member of the band, hasn't passed by many opportunities to slate his former bandmates, despite being the first to leave. It reminds me of finishing with someone, then complaining when they get new friends and a new squeeze - get over it Peter, it's no longer your business! For a band who used to be 'cool' it's a complete turnaround. Until the 90s they were mysterious and it was difficult to find out anything about them. Now you wish they'd all just shut up. No wonder their popularity has eroded.

So, the album comes with low expectations, to put it mildly. Add to that that the last album (Sirens' Call) wasn't particularly well-received, and that these tracks are erroneously often presented as offcuts or outtakes (actually they were recorded at the same time but were supposed to be the core of the next album), why should you look any further?

Actually, I don't think Sirens' Call was a bad album - just a wildly inconsistent one - with some of their best ever tunes (title track, Turn, Who's Joe?) and some of their worst (Jetstream) along with a fair few that sounded like they were written by a different band entirely (I Told You So, Working Overtime). Overall, the album was let down by slightly flat, glossy production that smoothed out the rough edges too much.

On the first few listens, it's just the same case here - just more of the same slightly disappointing songs with few real hooks. The production is still flattish and too many of the songs are mid-paced. You would hope that had they released them they might have been edited and sharpened at least. However, after putting the album away I realised the songs had begun to embed themselves in my brain, and revealed some hidden treasures. I haven't stopped listening since:

1) I'll Stay With You. Should have been a single instead of Jetstream. The most instant song and stands comparison with their best work of the last decade or so.
2) Sugarcane. As the name suggests, it's a saccharine bit of froth about the travails of being rich and famous. Vibrant, but disco-ey and cheesy (particularly the chorus) You'll either love or hate it. I love it.
3) Recoil. Melancholic slower number. The vocals are beautiful but the Latin-ish arrangement sounds very easy-listening. It's promising but I wish they'd roughened it up a bit. It also goes on for ever. It reminds me of 'It's Probably Me' by Sting, but that's possibly a better song!
4) Californian Grass. Simply beautiful, slow-burning song. Doesn't sound much on first few listens but play it loud and you get it.
5) Hellbent. The first time I heard this song (on 2011's Total Compilation) I thought it sounded like a weak retread of 1998's Brutal. But it has a nagging chorus and a driving riff that really sticks in the brain. It does indicate the flatness of the production though - the 2011 Total version is essentially the same mix but sounds a lot more crystalline and sharper.
6) Shake it Up. Rough, haphazard, shouty song that sounds vaguely like a rocked-up version of 1983 hit Confusion. Could do with some editing and has far too many different things going on. B-side material.
7) I've Got A Feeling. Simple but effective lyrics - a very atmospheric song with a great guitar line. Another one that sounds like nothing on first listen but really improves.
8) I Told You So. The original was on the parent album and was a reggae-lite number that didn't really gel. This version is entirely different - a stripped down, Velvets-ish number with stark drums and squalling guitar. The version appeared first on a vinyl single in 2006 but this remix is shorter, sharper and punchier. One of my least favourite songs on Sirens and one of the best here - who'd have thought it?

All in all, this isn't a completists' only collection. There are a number of tunes that show NO were still trying something different in their dying days, and many of these songs would have clearly improved the parent album. What's also good is how nicely it is packaged - I've got the vinyl version with extra CD, and it's a simple but striking design that harks back to their glory days, rather than the half-assed cover of their last album. It's a mellow and intriguing bunch of songs that is definitely worth getting. My only real gripe is that they missed a trick not including the Mac Quayle remix of Guilt is a Useless Emotion. This is only available on the US version of Sirens and not only does it completely destroy the original, but it's one of the best songs they've done in years - another lost single. Adding it here would have got it a deserved wider audience and increased the punchiness of the album no end.
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on 27 May 2013
Okay, so the original line-up split before this was released. Okay, so it could be interpreted as rejected tracks from 'Waiting for the Siren's Call' album. The reality is....a classic New Order album with all of the very traits we have come to know and love.
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on 13 March 2013
Ok so not outstanding, but not that bad either. Having assumed, following the band's split that there wouldn't be any new releases, this was a welcome bonus, like being reunited with a good friend you haven't seen in a few years. The relationship might not reach the heady heights that it once did, but it feels good to have them around.
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on 26 February 2013
I have been waiting for this album ever since 'Waiting for the Siren's call' and they mentioned in a NME interview they had enough tracks for another album. Well it was certainly worth the wait, and a great accompaniment to it's predecessor.
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on 19 April 2013
Perhaps a bit of a departure from some of their past songs but great listening with many sounds you will instantly know as New Order and like and others to listen to and grow into. Why criticise something a little different. If you only like the old songs just listen to the old albums. If you are a true New Order fan what's not to like.
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on 10 February 2013
Listened to this with some trepidation - only to be won over within about twenty seconds. These songs are far superior to majority of the album they failed to make. Full of creativity and interest that some of the latter-day NO output seemed to be lacking (at least to this life-long fan). God bless them for putting it out in spite of their recent (ahem) differences. The opposite of barrel-scraping.
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The album is dead, they tell you. Nobody listens to them anymore. But who has the patience to cherry pick a record, pay 99p for the best songs, and then fiddle around them on your iPhone? Who has the energy? I'm happy enough to just press "Play" on a title and let the rest of the songs follow. I might be old-fashioned, anarchronistic, or simply different, but an album is a selection by the artist (mostly). Cherry picking original songs might just be the equivalent of just selecting your best bits from a film and never watching anything else. And wondering if something else is missing : and make the Lord Of The Rings trilogy about 20 minutes long.

In this day and age then, you might question the point of "Lost Sirens", the latest / last New Order record. On its own merits, this is a short album - 38 minutes, 8 songs - and the shortest one New Order have made since their 1981 debut. It's history is also somewhat protracted - songs that were finished during the sessions for the 2005 "Waiting For The Sirens Call", and were intended to form the bulk of the next record, alongside any new songs completed after. The new songs never came. Peter Hook left the band along with several unreleased, finished songs, and New Order split for several years until a new, Hook-less version, reunited in 2011.

On first listen, these songs are a disappointment : trumpeted for many years, here they are and... they are a selection of eight pretty good New Order songs. Though missing an obvious, killer single, it is reminiscent of the mid Eighties New Order albums, in so much as it is made of solid, reliable songs, but no obvious works of genius that will instantly slot into the setlists forever. It is also a record that is fairly uniform : relatively slow songs that sit well in the middle of an album, a couple of energetic belters, and a alternate version of a song from the parent record, make it a somewhat reserved listen, coupled with a running order that veers to the emphasise the slow tone of the album and some of the released mixes have uncharacteristic fade outs, as if the band hadn't quite worked out how to finish the songs.

It opens with "I'll Stay With You", (also mooted as "Brothers And Sisters"), which - alongside "Shake It Up", and "Sugarcane" - are the most obvious New Order songs, sounding like the better picks from the bands later years, and with a mild polish, well worthy of single status : I wonder why these weren't picked up for the 2006 "Singles" compilation in favour of mild touring and yet another compilation record.

"Recoil", "Californian Grass", "Hellbent", for example on all leap straight into the area of three, somewhat uniform, mid-paced ballads (none of whom bear a particularly strong chorus), and "Recoil" is largely instrumental, which deflate the record and make the experience of listening to the songs drag more than it needs to. The other two are the kind of guitar driven material that New Order have done better many times before. Its not bad at all, but not really good enough to stand equally with their other records, especially when New Order set the bar as high as their past glories indicate.

It ends with a previously-only-on-vinyl remix/alternate recording of "I Told You So", which was a dirge on the original record and is far superior here with a new ending and different instrumentation, but not exactly the best song New Order ever released. On the other hand, given that these songs were largely untouched for several years, were they released at the time, they would have made the core of a solid and worthy New Order album.

One could wonder what if, what if, what if, the band had revamped the parent record, made some different choices, could both "Waiting For The Sirens Call", and this, fared better, been stronger releases? Who knows? Better late than never.
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on 28 January 2013
Yes the album is short for these days but we all know it is just the band deciding to release a few tracks that never made it on to a 'proper' album. With that in mind I am very glad to have them. They are not real classics but they are pleasant enough and will make a nice end to a wonderful collection in the life of New Order.
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on 9 March 2013
lost tracks, there are many more new order tunes that have'nt seen the light of day .
this 8 track ep could lead to more releases , if they ever sort themslves out . it's a nice touch for old fans like myself, so enjoy
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on 26 March 2014
I love New Order, and have done for many years. I grew up with their music and they were always my favourite band, who I would defend to the hilt in the face of any criticism. New Order invented dance music!

Even I, however, can't say that this is any good. Get Ready was their last decent album, Waiting for the Sirens Call wasn't up to much, and as this is made up of stuff which didn't make it onto that album my hopes weren't high. Carrying on since without Hooky just smacks of desperation, although I cant hold it against them as the Hacienda (allegedly) took all their money so they have to make a living somehow I suppose.

If you like New Order, don't buy this and just revisit the good stuff from the 80's. If you want to get into New Order, get Lowlife or Technique from when they were brilliant and trendsetting.
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