Review Summary: An essential electronic compilation.
Born out of the ashes of Joy Division, New Order found repeated success in the 1980s from an urge to break boundaries by producers and the band itself. This urge helped form the first wave of electronic music and establish a culture fascinated by music with electronic roots. The band had success with traditional album releases, but it was the extended cuts and associated remixes that catapulted them to the top, especially in Europe and Australia. And while the material is somewhat dated, it still holds its own weight today.
The lyrics are clearly not the main focus and come off as a bit cheesy as they're crooned quite quietly and melodramatically. However, they work because they fit the music. It's funny in an ironic sort of way, because some of these first dance songs aren't really songs to which someone would dance. A glance through the lyrics alone would give the listener an impression of music that would be ideal for sulking. This tells how important the beat
was becoming. It was all about the beat
. You could say whatever you wanted as long as people could move to it. The sound trumped any message.
Many of the 12" singles found on this release follow a similar formula. There is still somewhat of a traditional song flow as most of the tracks follow a verse-chorus track. The difference is the long instrumental passages. Almost all of the tracks begin and end with a drawn out instrumental passage, and there's usually a few thrown somewhere within the middle of the tracks too. The instrumentals work because they're always shifting; sound effects are added, pulled, distorted, and combined to create a world within a song. The songs are easy to get lost in, which is entirely the point.
As it turns out, electronic experimentation was ideal with a new wave foundation. There is a solid new wave base to these tracks, as shown by the guitar tones, synthesizer use, and corny snare hits. The tracks then expand beyond this base with a landscape that makes the listener want to get up and move. And really, this record is one of the few ideal compilations just because of the sheer work it would take to find all of these original singles on their own. It's been over twenty-five years since its release, but it's still one of the best electronic albums to date.