New Order - Waiting For The Sirens' Call

Matt Paradise 28/03/2005

Rating: 4/5

When a band of New Orders' age release a new album, it seems inevitable that the band themselves, rather than the music, will be reviewed. The small amount of time devoted to the new songs will compare them to past glories and be found lacking, before an off hand dismissal of the album is given. For that to happen to 'Waiting for the Sirens' Call' would be a criminal offence.

New Order sound fresh, revitalised and full of life on this, their eighth studio album. Bassist Peter Hook has likened it to Technique, their 1989 masterpiece and you can see where he's coming from, but you can probably hear sounds that remind you of songs from the past four albums. Lead single 'Krafty' (wonder what THAT title refers to) could fit on 'Brotherhood', a delicious hybrid of guitars and electronics that New Order do so well. It's an upbeat song, with a chorus that burst out and rises forth; on first listen you may not be impressed but that tune stays with you and grows insidiously inside your head until you can't help but hum it while you walk around.

It's much the same with the rest of the album- nothing 'stands out' upon first listen but give it time and you discover, as with many long lasting albums, just how good it is. Opener 'Who's Joe?' is a slow-burner but sets the tone for what's still to come; understated verses give way to a chorus of such urgency that one can't help but be bowled over. Next up 'Hey now what you doing?' has the biting guitars of 'Get Ready' to lyrics giving advice to a DIY music maker, containing Sumner's most amusing/bravest rhyming couplet ever: “You've got the brightest future/ Writing songs on your computer”. The gall of the man!

There's a lot of variety contained within 'Waiting for the Sirens' Call' that may have been slightly lacking on the cautious 'Get Ready', including their more dance orientated sound. 'Guilt is a Useless Emotion' is a pounding house track, the closest they get to their dancier past, containing a wonderful breakdown before launching into the final chorus. It's not a strong lyric but a recurrent theme of Sumner's assertion that love can't be bought. The female vocals are tastefully done, unlike some of the past intrusions of backing singer Dawn Zee. More female assisted vocals appear on 'Jetstream' in the shape of Scissor Sisters' Ana Matronic. While “J-E-T you are so good to me/ You are my jetstream lover” may sound rather cheesy it's all part of the fun of an above average pop song, and Matronic really does give the song a lift after the slightly flat verses.

One particular highlight of an excellent album is the title track; over a relaxed acoustic sound Sumner sings a typical tale of regret, longing and forgiveness: “I won't desert you/ I don't know what to say/ I really hurt you/ I nearly gave it all the way”. Needless to say it's one of the most touching and gorgeous songs New Order have released. In a similar vein is 'Turn', an almost Smithsian piece with beautiful guitar work and a downcast but impressive vocal melody in the chorus.

'I Told You So' is perhaps most likely to divide opinion with New Order fans- a bizarre dub hybrid which, if not careful, can put one in mind of Ace of Base! Raggae keyboards and a sequenced banjo twang along to some dancehall beats Sumner recorded whilst on holiday, before a Velvet Underground sounding guitar drones in. It's by no means bad, but after a few minutes it starts to drag, maybe a careful spot of editing would have done the song more justice. 'Dracula's Castle' suffers the same problem- it features some interesting bleeping synth work, but is ultimately more disposable than the rest of 'Waiting for the Siren's Call' and has the faint whiff of filler about it.

'Morning Night and Day' is another fun rock song with an amusing lyric bemoaning hangovers after a night of excess- just say no kids. Album closer 'Working Overtime' is a bit of an oddity; while it's a pretty strong standalone song, it doesn't seem to fit the mood of the album despite the variety of the other tracks. It's a Stooges style rocker with more of Sumner's lyrical themes of hum-drum 9 to 5 existences. It just doesn't seem to mesh very well, but this may well be an intentional splash of cold water to the face by the band.

'Waiting for the Siren's Call' is an extremely good record for a band of New Order's age, much better than it has any right to be. If 'Get Ready' does exactly what it says on the title, this is what we've been warmed up for all along.