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VINE VOICETOP 1000 REVIEWERon 14 January 2013
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 21 January 2013
One must wonder if there is life left in New Order without the driving, guiding basslines of Peter Hook. Anyone who saw them play last year will tell you there undoubtedly is in a live setting. The four-string ego may have departed in a typical blaze of bluster and controversy, but three quarters of the band's original creative force remains with Bernard Sumner, Stephen and Gillian Morris.

Phil Cunningham has been a member for over 10 years and Tom Chapman has taken over on bass duties, an unenviable task but one which he seems up to.

The reason New Order are so important to the history of modern music is that they - sometimes brilliantly, mostly interestingly and always improbably - combined the distinct and separate entities of rock and electronic music like never before. They broke new ground where no one else could creatively.

New Order have never sounded like anyone else but New Order. Joy Division included.

So, to Lost Sirens, a collection of songs left over from the Waiting For the Siren's Call sessions in 2004 when Hook was still a member, an album which many fans regard as their weakest effort.

I'll Stay With You starts off like a dance track until the distinctive high bassline kicks in with Sumner's guitar high in the mix, a signpost for what's to come.

Sugarcane is brilliantly fashioned indie-disco pop, made with the same sort of abandon that the band summoned for Perfect Kiss, except this time the band are in their mid-fifties.

Californian Grass is a rock number, again, guitar is at the forefront with Cunningham's presence adding to the emphasis on six-string and battling with Hook's bass for precedence. It's the multi-layered traditional instrumentation that catches your ear - while the synths and effects have to make do with being background noise.

Recoil is a Latin affair, dressed with grandiose piano and far more laid back than anything else since Run Wild from Get Ready.

Shake it Up begins like Moby trying to replicate the New Order sound until the sweeping synth is disturbed by some urgent spiky guitar and bass and an intrusive beat built around a shouted refrain before expanding in a sixties beat whimsy - a subtle trait of Sumner's writing in recent years.

I've Got A Feeling briefly threatens to be a D:REAM cover before evolving into another cohesively designed alternative rock track that flirts exquisitely with electronica.

The best song on the record we were already acquainted on the 2011 compilation Total - which married New Order and Joy Division tracks for the first time - Hellbent is the perfect amalgamation of technology and rock, it's amazing that it was not considered for the first instalment of 'Sirens'.

One of the things that comes across from this collection of songs is the direction that the band were going in. These are well arranged songs with verses, middle-eights and choruses - they have a clear structure - something they were never noted for up until 2001's Get Ready.

Sumner's lyrics are at times throwaway but that doesn't grate too much - has never tried to be Ian Curtis. Did anyone ever listen to New Order for the lyrics anyway? He's committed worse crimes of course. Anybody remember the rapping on Republic?

This isn't their best work but it's certainly not a money making folly either - these songs deserved to be released because they are good and not just as an artefact of Hook's last recorded appearance with the band.

It's New Order which is better than no Order. If nothing else Lost Sirens reminds us of the importance and relevance they continue to hold in music while growing old as ungracefully as possible. It will be interesting if they record another album without Hook - his bass-lines were so essential even on this compilation. Will they drop the high-end bass parts?

Whatever, I'm sure they'll continue to evolve as unassumingly as ever and create interesting music.

Robert McNamara
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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 24 March 2013
As a New Order fan we expect a New Order album to be quirky in places, perhaps even poor, but the tracks that are true gems more than make up for the offset. Unfortunately on Lost Sirens there are no such gems, and plenty of parts which are poor.
There is no obvious single on the album, no Crystals, no Kraftys, and as such we have an album of 100% mediocrity.. though perhaps slightly harsh as the album DOES come close at certain points. The opener "I'll Stay With You" could ALMOST be a single, but there is something missing, Sugarcane is cheesy throwaway pop, Shake It Up sounds like "Rock The Shack" from Get Ready in a nightclub and the remix of I Told You So is purely disposable.

Lost Sirens has its moments, but unfortunately there is not enough of them to make this a worthwhile purchase. The sound of a band falling apart, tired and in freefall to self-parody.
For the hardcore fans only.
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on 15 January 2013
Now i love that album and the songs on here are pleasant but be aware you are buying what is normally a disc 2. This is like a DVD of deleted scenes so just be aware before buying!
Musically its 3 stars with a couple of good tracks, Hellbent beng a stand out but as a release its 2 stars all the way.
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on 4 February 2013
I bought the Vinyl + CD version. Amazing quality of the vinyl record, artwork and packaging.

I was expecting a B sides album when this album was announced almost a year ago. That were my expectations and certainly this album is more than I was expecting! I just bought Rolling Stone Magazine and the album has received 3.5 stars out of 4 and it is also mentioned in the favorite playlist section for February. Amazing isn't it? I totally agree with Rolling Stone. For me, Waiting for the Sirens call was an excellent album and I found Lost Sirens a perfect companion. For Rolling Stone it is even better than Waiting for the Sirens Call (contrary to many of the reviews that I have found here). I would not say that Lost Sirens is a better album but it has outstanding tracks that easily could fit in any New Order album from Technique and onwards.

My favorite songs are Recoil, I'll Stay with you, Californian Grass and Sugarcane.

Recoil is one of the best New Order ballads of all time with amazing keyboards and piano. For me this song alone makes the album worthwhile.
I'll Stay with You is classic New Order where Stephen Morris drums and Peter Hook's bass line really shine.
Californian Grass is a song where Bernard Sumner sings very much like Lloyd Cole....excellent result.
Sugarcane is a song that could have made an Electronic album (Sumner/Marr collaboration)

Lost Sirens is a 5 stars b-sides album. No doubt about it.
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As same as said by another customer, "Lost Sirens" sounds insipid at first but really grows on you. In the beginning it looked to me far inferior than its "father", released eight years ago. But now I completely change my mind. This one cannot be a masterpiece, but it's really nice and enjoyable. From "I'll Stay With You" to "Hellbent", there's no mistakes to point out, everything is in its right place. "Shake It Up" and "I Got I Feeling" have vocation for FMs, but not necessarily so inspired than its previous ones. And finally, the VU-style remix of "I Told Yo So", a better version than its original one, is the sweet surprise that ends the CD. This one is the milestone of the end of an era - the last record with the original bassist Peter Hook in the band. Now New Order came back to the studio with a new bass player - Tom Chapman - and with Gillian Gilbert again on the keyboards. The upcoming EP with the first 4 or 5 new studio tracks maybe will be released in october this year. Change is the word, because the name of the band is... New Order.
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on 21 August 2013
Like its parent album "Waiting for the Sirens call" "Lost Sirens" has some good moments in it. But sometimes it can be dull. California Grass, Hellbent and a remix to I told you so stands out to me. (I told you so mix reminds me of a typical harem music lol). Other tracks are barely OK, but they can be dragging. Guitar is bland. Remember the old days Joy Division has some mean guitar licks and solos by Bernard (Transmission, Shadowplay good examples), even into their New Order prime guitar stands out with Hooky's bass skills (Temptation). Mostly this album had very little or none of it. But keep in mind it is "Sessions" basically demos. Some tracks would work on parent album for some reason its left in the vaults all these years. I understand the band had problems leading up to the split, and could explain the lack of enthusiasm and motivation to put effort in the parent album and sessions too.

New Order is back together without Peter Hook, if they want to get back to their roots they have to put more effort in their instruments. Pet Shop Boys went back to their root with Electric and it paid off. Overall its an Ok release, but not over the top or special like Technique, but keep in mind it's sessions.
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on 29 January 2013
I've been a New Order fan since the 80s - when I used to queue up at record shops on a Monday, behind sulky youths in T-shirts and black trench coats, to buy the latest release - so I bought this out of a sense of loyalty.

I'm not keen on Waiting for the Sirens' Call, and rarely listen to it, so I didn't have high expectations for this EP - effectively the sweepings from the floor after they made that last album.

I have to say, though, that it's not that bad. I actually prefer it to WFTSC. Bernard Sumner said in a recent Guardian interview that it was made at a time when Peter Hook had lost interest in New Order and wanted to pursue his DJing career. I think you can hear that in this record - the relative lack of his distinctive bass moves the sound more into Pet Shop Boys territory. It still compares favourably with releases from younger bands, though.

It's also interesting that it's marketed as an EP - it's longer than the second XX album, for example, and only a minute or so shorter than Technique.
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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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