When an extremely influential band such as New Order releases its first studio album in eight years — its seventh in 20 years — you’d better Get Ready. Yet satisfying old fans while attracting new ones is often a crapshoot. The last thing this world needs is another crusty rock band coming out of the woodwork for one last chance to suck. Thankfully, New Order’s still got it. Intelligent, electronic-infused, melancholic pop rock is now safe for the next generation. Phew.
Get Ready explodes with “Crystal,” easily the best pop song this year. Only New Order can build a chorus out of pop clichés such as “Here comes love/It’s like honey/You can’t buy it with money,” throw in an “ooohhoohoohooh” or “heeyyeeyyeyey,” and still make it rock. The adrenaline flows even faster on “60 miles an hour” and “Rock the Shack,” which feature equally profound lyrics and are reminiscent of the band’s Republic-era sound (80 percent rock, 20 percent electronic). On “Turn My Way,” Billy Corgan gets to share the mic with New Order’s Bernard Sumner to create a weightless, bittersweet pop song about drinking and lamenting life’s inconsistencies — the album’s first truly substantive moment. Songs such as “Vicious streak,” and “Slow jam” evoke the more ambient electro-pop moments of 1989’s Technique, yet the sounds here are purely contemporary. Meanwhile, upper-register bass melodies with a heavy chorus effect strike a delicate balance with guitars and synths throughout much of the album, epitomizing New Order’s sound.
Still, songs such as “Someone Like You” — which is less nursery rhyme and more poetry — make Get Ready a fresh experience. Old and new sounds coexist perfectly and demonstrate what made New Order unique in the first place; it proved that pop music, if done correctly, can move the soul. The last track, however, is slapped-on nonsense about Jesus or Jehovah or a girl or drugs or something. I guess that’s why God made programmable CD players. Hallelujah!
E-mail Robert Gorell at firstname.lastname@example.org.