Published Sep 23, 2015Thirty-five years after forming, New Order have returned with their tenth album, much to every fan's amazement. After Peter Hook left the band in 2007, all bets on the legendary Manchester band continuing on should have been off, but Bernard Sumner, Stephen Morris and Gillian Gilbert (who took a ten-year leave of absence) fired up the engine for a tour that just kept blossoming into a full comeback. And hallelujah for that, because no one wanted 2005's Waiting For The Sirens' Call to be their final record.
The band have admitted that Music Complete is a reaction to the excessive guitar use that burdened Waiting, and to help inspire them, they brought in Tom Rowlands from the Chemical Brothers to produce two tracks: the propulsive "Singularity" and the even better "Unlearn This Hatred," which Rowlands should have kept for Born In The Echoes.
It gets even better when the band channel the ecstatic Ibiza-inspired parts of Technique on "Tutti Frutti," a fun slice of walloping beats and Euro-cheese synths, and the Richard X-produced "Plastic," which flutters with Moroder-esque arpeggios and big vocals by former Primal Scream belter Denise Johnson. But stealing the show is "Nothing But A Fool," a nearly eight-minute chameleon that begins as a bluesy acoustic ballad, only to pick up speed and bloom into one of the best guitar songs they've ever written.
Sure, "Restless" is a curious track to lead the album with, as it's easily the weakest one here, and maybe getting Iggy Pop to deliver some spoken word in a Johnny Cash drawl over the motorik pulse of the cinematic "Stray Dog" feels a bit wasteful, but two blemishes hardly spoil this party.
Hook helped New Order define their sound with his swooping, melodic bass lines, but Tom Chapman fills the void (and even pushes it into new directions on "People On the High Line" and "Singularity"), and surprisingly, he isn't missed on Music Complete. By taking their time and hiring the right contributors, New Order have made their best album since 1989's Technique. Few people expected this to happen so far into their career, but then New Order have always been about beating the odds. (Mute)