A few years ago, I’m chillin’ at my big bro’s, reading the paper and barely paying any attention to the MTV2 that I have on at a low volume. You know how it is: one mediocre song after another, but you love music like you love life, need it like you need oxygen, and you hope, in spite of what life and the radio have taught you, for that one great song that might accidentally get played. That’s how I got into Ryan Adams about a year ago, but I digress. Back to a few years ago: this song starts up with a great drum groove and then an overdriven riff joins in and then the singer sings, “We’re like crystal/we break easy,” and I think, “My God, he’s right. We are like crystal and we do break easy. This song both speaks to me and simultaneously moves me.” Somehow, I miss the end of the song, probably because I was playing air drums (I’m a genius at air drums) or singing along at full volume with my eyes closed (‘cause, dude, I love to emote).
A little bit of research leads me to the band. It’s New Order. New Order? Yes, New Order. Now, I’d been down with New Order back in the day, when you couldn’t go to a club without hearing Blue Monday. The thing is, you wanted to hear Blue Monday because the speakers were doing lovely and permanent damage to your delicate hearing and the strobes were strobing and you knew the dance floor was going to fill up and it was gonna be physical and sweaty and nearly perfect and afterward everybody would be keyed up and you’d pile into a bunch of cars and you’d go to Denny’s for 3:00 a.m. food because you didn’t want the night to end, but it had to, of course it had to, and you’d wake up the next day at noon and think that life was great, amazingly, improbably, fucking great and you couldn’t wait to do it all again. To use the language of the times: it was awesome.
But those days are gone, goddamn are they gone, and I thought that New Order was gone, but there they were, singing about crystal and breaking.
It’s a few years later now, and New Order has just put out a new CD, Waiting for the Sirens’ Call. I was checking metacritic.com for reviews of the new Garbage CD and New Order was also listed as having a new CD out. I went to Rolling Stone to read their review of said CD, and I thought, “New Order? Let’s give it a shot.”
The CD arrived last Friday, and it’s getting the road test. So far, so pretty damn good, even if it hardly sounds like the New Order that I had loved. What it sounds like is as if the new New Order is a new band that had probably listened to plenty of old New Order, and the new New Order dug the old New Order, and absorbed its influence, but combined it with more contemporary sounds, but not the sounds that you’d expect, not the dance/electronic stuff that’s in the clubs now.
This CD “rocks” and sounds much more organic and much rougher than old New Order, and this is especially evident in the percussion. On the old stuff, the percussion tracks were generated by a drum machine and were a bit cool and on the metronomic side. It's a drum machine; what else but cool and metronomic could it be? That's not a problem or a complaint; it didn’t bother me then, and it doesn’t bother me now. The new CD's drums sound like they were played by a human: the rhythms are much more complex and "spontaneous," even though nothing spontaneous ever gets onto a track. Also, the guitars are occasionally distorted and they "shred." Okay, here's the truth: there's plenty of good stuff, most of it comes early, but there's no bad stuff, though you'll probably skip a song or two on occasion (but name one CD where this isn't the case), and you'll want to rip at least three songs from this CD onto a "Hipster/Ironic Party CD," and at least four songs onto a "Car CD."
It really is great driving music, especially on straight roads where you can drive really fast. Also, it should be cloudy. It will also help if you start thinking about the past, about when you were younger and everything was easier and the melancholia that seemed to follow you everywhere could be left behind on the dance floor. In summary: Waiting For The Sirens' Call made me happy and sad, one after the other and sometimes both at once, which is just about right for New Order.