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Keeping the true faith,
This review is from: The Best Of New Order (Audio CD)
New Order is a rather mysterious band in many ways. It has pre-history and continuing influence by groups such as Kraftwerk, Eno and the Velvet Underground, and various other experimental electronic-based European groups. It also has a strong shadow cast over it from Joy Division, an ironic name for a group whose leader (also the founder of New Order) Ian Curtis committed suicide. Enigmatic to the last, New Order members (who drift in and out of other band arrangements; the latest perhaps being Bernard Sumner's work with Electronic) tend to be less than specific when talking with the press, and their albums are conspicuously devoid of liner notes.
This CD, entitled (the best of) New Order for once contains some liner notes, which alas are disjointed, following the same fuzzy logic of information as in the past. The introduction states: 'This carefully selected commercial compilation of 16 such single-minded grouped and seductive songs of love, longing, life and belongings surely sums up the heartpounding pop life of this devious, uncomplicated pop group, uncertainly the most secretive of English groups, certainly the most surprising.'
Alas, not all that enlightening. Perhaps, given my mystical bent of mind, this is one of the reason why I enjoy New Order so much. Their music in came to life for me in London in the 1980s, and I have followed them ever since. Songs such as Bizarre Love Triangle and True Faith have been international club hits, and continue to be regulars on the playlists. Other songs, such as Blue Monday and Round and Round, have had new life breathed into them as remakes (the trend of groups to remake their own work is more prominent in certain Euro-pop groups than in other musical varieties).
These songs have enigmatic but meaningful lyrics; these are intelligent lyrics -- poetry set to music, not simple statements set to a beat. The longing and regret expressed in songs such as Ruined in a Day and Regret, the hope and energy contained in songs like True Faith and World in Motion; these have real emotion with real substance, for those who listen behind the electronic overlay. Videos that were made in support of the songs are innovative creatively and visually, often displaying the same kinds of enigmatic symbolism as do their lyrics.
The music is intricate and detailed, full and expressive. This type of music was coming to an adolescent maturity in the 1980s, and more adult maturity in the 1990s, and this compilation shows the progression of style and complexity for New Order over that time. This is, however, very much a dance/pop oriented sound, and those who are not looking for such will most likely not enjoy this sound. New Order is a relatively obscure group in American terms; much better known in Europe and Britain, but still not a 'powerhouse' group (of course, they can't all be the Spice Girls, now, can they?). But, for the particular audience niche they crafted for themselves, they remain an integral part, and remain for me an important influence in my pop musical tastes.
Friends who peruse my CD collection often comment on the seeming contradiction between the choral/liturgical collection, the classical collection, and the pop collection, wondering how they fit together. Perhaps it is that each of these touches an emotion inside; each striking a different chord that sounds with a different tone, yet, just as the strings on a violin or guitar all must be different for music to be made, these differing tastes coexist so to add fullness to my life. New Order inspires such thinking in me. Odd for a song likely to be blaring over a disco floor!