If you’re only vaguely familiar with New Order, you might perceive the band as bunch of faceless guys hiding behind a wall of synthesizers.
The name Joy Division may not even mean much to you. (I really ought to have written those past two sentences in the first-person — it sure describes me.)
Which makes New Order’s first album in eight years, Get Ready, sound really new and unfamiliar.
New Order has always been something of a guitar band. Check out (the best of) New Order — the first four tracks, including the then-newly written “Let’s Go (Nothing For Me)”, sport lots of guitars. Even “Regret” from 1993’s Republic hinges not on a synth hook but a guitar hook.
On Get Ready, New Order still relies on a lot of ethereal synthesizer effects, but now the trio has thrown in some axeslinging to make these tracks sound harder and beefier than anything they’ve ever done.
The first two tracks of the Get Ready — “Crystal” and “60 m.p.h.” — ably set the tone for the rest of the album.
A pair of grunge-y guitars lay the foundation for “Crystal”, while dramatic synthesizer pads only punctuate, not propel, the song. On “60 m.p.h.”, there’s barely a synthesizer chiming in among all the ringing guitars.
Other tracks almost sound like New Order is trying to put Oasis cowering back in a dark corner where they belong.
“Slow Jam” starts off with a distorted synthesizer hook vaguely reminiscent of Trent Reznor, but then a wall of guitars crashes in with rock star aplomb.
“Turn My Way” would have made a great outtake from Smashing Pumpkins Adore sessions, an impression pretty much reinforced by Billy Corgan’s vocal contributions to the song.
“Rock the Shack” sounds like such a 180 degree turn from “Blue Monday”, it’s a wonder the song doesn’t more closely resemble a big late-80s hit by an Athens, Georgia, band, which also had “shack” in the title. (As in “Love”?)
New Order doesn’t completely give into six-string excesses. “Someone Like You” and the introspective “Vicious Streak” features a lot of the same watery effects employed on Depeche Mode’s Exciter.
All told, Get Ready is probably one of the rockingest albums released this year — from a band not reknowned for fiery fretwork.