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New Order – Low Life (1985)

June 27, 2018

[Album 605/1001]

Order matters.

And with New Order, I’ve started to realize why I adore some of their tracks and feel indifferent to others.

Tunes like Regret, my gateway New Order song, are pop masterpieces. The song itself is paramount, the synths feel like another layer rather than the driving force.

Whereas with tunes like Blue Monday, the synthesizers drive the bus, the track loops for over seven minutes, to my, not necessarily chagrin, but more to my increasing disengagement.

Although in numeric addition, the order of integers on the left side shouldn’t matter (e.g. 3 + 2 = 5, 2 + 3 = 5), those rules do not apply with regard to New Order & their contemporaries.

Which helps explain why I love New Order Pop-Synth…and I am somewhat less jazzed about New Order Synth-Pop.






Unsurprisingly, when they adhere to the Pop-Synth structure on Low Life, I’m all in.

Love Vigilantes might be one of the band’s strongest tracks; an upbeat, guitar-driven New_Order_Lowlife_Coveropener, juxtaposed with a tragic lyrical ending.

When the low-register guitar riff made its entry in Sunrise, I didn’t even need to hear the rest of the song to know it would be right up my street.

The rest of the way, the album is likely split 50-50 between Pop-Synth & Synth-Pop.

So how you feel about Low Life as a whole will likely depend upon your personal Pop-Synth & Synth-Pop equations!


Verbalize the Positive

1. Equations + Music + Graphics = some of my favourite things, regardless of the order.

2. Summer holidays start this week & I think I’m ready to speed up my writing pace a bit, up from my current rate of 1 review every 2.5 months! 😀

From → 1980s

  1. It’s good to have the graphs back. I love New Order’s ‘Substance’ compilation – which is basically the 12 inch dance mixes of their singles (I think…). That was my way into the band. I don’t really like ‘Blue Monday’ that much either.

    • My thanks – I just checked the substance tracklist, looks promising. And I never invested in them but I liked how they had back-to-back comps, the best & the rest of new order!

      • jprobichaud permalink

        I’d stick with Substance.

  2. I’m a big fan of New Order….I love this album! I found Republic far more pop synth and a definite deviation from Low-Life’s sound.

  3. jprobichaud permalink

    I really love the penultimate track on this album: Sub-culture. And like Mr Aphoristical, Substance was my gateway to New Order. The 12” of Sub-culture on there is more pop-synth and hence, likely more to your taste.

  4. I enjoyed this read as I always do with your reviews but I don’t know if my fried out metal Brain could handle a 7 minute loop …hahaha
    Great stuff as always

    • My thanks Deke – and I couldn’t picture a metal tune looping for 7 minutes. In some of those mid-80s metallica/megadeth tunes, I think they go through 7 different riffs within the first few minutes!

  5. Haha, Blue Monday is one of my fave records ever! Philistine!

  6. I think I like both, but don’t actually know New Order much at all!

    • I recall that you’re a power pop enthusiast Bruce – I’m curious if a similar equation works there, would power + pop & pop + power yield different results?!

  7. Math is hard.
    Graphs are cool.
    New Order= da bomb!

  8. I had to rub my eyes a few times when I spotted this in the reader!! Pleased that it’s no mirage, I tells ya.

    Anyhoo, I’m all for both, but, like Bruce, I know very little New Order. I did like Crystal and picked up Get Ready a good while back… can’t say I’ve listened to it enough to be familiar with it, though!!

  9. From Low-Life, I love The Perfect Kiss. The track Elegia is quite haunting and wouldn’t have been out of place on a Joy Division album. Reading your post leaves me with a question. Perhaps you can explain what the difference is between Pop-Synth & Synth-Pop?

    • For me, Pop Synth means well crafted tunes, enhanced by synthesizers & Synth pop would be more of a synth loop as a foundation, and adding the poppy elements in later.
      I much prefer the former, as for me, it always boils down to the song!

  10. ‘Elegia’ from this is the only New Order I know. I have crisp memories from the summer of ’85 of playing it loud through the speakers in my VW bug for friends in the parking lot of a Utah ski resort (Snowbird) just before heading in to see Sting play live on his … Blue Turtles tour. I made them close their eyes and may have suggested something along the lines of them possibly seeing God at the moment when the bombastic electric guitar kicks in at the 4:09 mark…

    • I will have to try that 4:09 eyes closed experience – a friend of mine has a VW bug, I may have to wait until I see him next!

  11. Excellent point. I think I will remember this from now on whenever I wash their entire output in indifference. 😉

    Increased Geoff blogging output = awesomeness.

    • My thanks Aaron!
      And it was really nice logging on and finding so many KMA comments this morning, so I’d argue the = awesomeness also applies to the KMA comments!

      • Well, they come with all apologies, Geoff. I’ve been so bad at staying caught up, so I’ve resorted to picking a blog and going through the Reader and doing one blog at a time, getting them all caught up. Poor ol Stuff And That got deluged the day before you did! Tomorrow it’s someone else’s turn!

  12. Beautiful write-up!!

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. New Order – Technique (1989) | 1001albumsin10years
  2. 1985 | 1001albumsin10years

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