Review Summary: New Order return with an effortlessly enjoyable collection of songs that will make you smile. It’s just a pity they’ll never make you laugh or cry
Instead of taking the normal route of becoming more mature, introspective and refined as time goes by, New Order are a group that appear to have done it the other way round - starting out rather morose as Joy Division and gradually getting more and more poppy! Perhaps the upbeat direction of early New Order songs like ’Blue Monday’
and ’Bizarre Love Triangle’
was a conscious decision to break away from the gloominess surrounding the group when Ian Curtis committed suicide; yet even songs from that era contained an air of true English melancholia that floated wistfully over the catchy pop hooks and trademark Peter Hook bass.
Catchy pop hooks are New Order’s milieu
, and Waiting For The Sirens’ Call
has them in abundance. First single ’Krafty‘
(inspired by the legendary electronic masters of nearly the same name) positively shimmers
with glistening, mountain dew electronics, and manages to sound like a lost single from 1986. Tracks like ’Who’s Joe?’
and the title track have a similarly fresh, light, warm feeling to them, with that typically dreamy underpinning. They are songs that can remind you of a summer’s day when you are in the very depths of winter. ‘Hey Now What You Doing’
, despite the awful title, is a terrific song about courage in the face of adversity, with positive vibes flooding out everywhere, and the combination of this with the ‘you-must-sing-it’ chorus meant that it was played over the TV highlights of practically every football game in 2005.
These pop songs are balanced out by some attempts at dance floor fillers; ’Guilt Is A Useless Emotion’
is a full-on stormer with pumping beats and distorted vocals, while they even drag Ana Matronic in to supply some additional vocals to ’Jetstream’
, a true feel-good-factor track, complete with addictive chorus, whoooosh!
sound effects and awful lyrics:
you are so good for me,
you are my Jetstream lover,
you’re how I wanna be
(just how I wanna be baby)”
Poor Bernard Sumner. It’s not like he ever wanted the job in the first place, but even after all these years, there’s nothing worth salvaging from the lyrics. Shame, because his half-drowned voice of cool, blank detachment in earlier songs has improved greatly. He does his best to add some emotion to the uninspiring lyrics, but that burden rests heavily on the music, which, unfortunately, holds no surprises.
And that’s the only problem with this album; it sounds like New Order far too much. There are no real attempts to broaden the palette; no wild sojourns into the musical wilderness to try something new, whilst still keeping that certain glowing sound that New Order has always possessed. Instead, in what seems like a last minute effort to do something adventurous, they come up with a strange hybrid of reggae and dark, robotic electronica for ’I Told You So’
, and turn into a poor-mans’ Stooges/Saints for ’Working Overtime’
. Both efforts fail, the latter for being incredibly predictable, the former for just being plain daft. Fortunately, it’s songs like ’Dracula’s Castle’
that save the day. Fluid, emotive, pacy, clean-sounding, slightly unnerving; it joins ’Krafty’
on this album as being a true return to form, while ’Morning Night And Day’
is the most upbeat song on the album, and features heavier guitars than usual, resulting in a great dance/rocker.
New Order were never the most prolific of groups; but after all this time, it’s disappointing that they have never managed to climb the (admittedly insurmountable) hurdle of such legacies as ’Blue Monday’
. What with Bernard Sumner’s anonymous vocals and awkward lyrics, coupled with them rising from the ashes of an excellent cult band, they are remarkable for being a group that doesn’t work on paper, yet remains remarkably powerful in practice. Waiting For The Sirens’ Call
is easy to listen to, but not disposable. Okay, so it’s hardly a deep experience, but then they never pretended to be. So it could be argued that any lack of successful experimentation doesn’t really matter. Waiting For The Sirens' Call
is New Order doing what they do best; an album with only two mistakes and nine shimmering crystalline songs that will lift you when you’re down. Best days behind them? Who cares? They have made a warm and competent pop record. Simple as that.