What’s this now? Techno-pop? Dance music? Stuff that goes thump-thump-thmpity-thump? Is Graeme cracked? Has Songs of the Day begun its inevitable swirl ‘round the bowl?
Yup. And no, not at all!
Listen, here at SOTD, we harbour no ingrained prejudice against anything just because it gets your toes a-tappin’. Sometimes your toes need to be a-tappin’, right? And New Order wasn’t the Pet Shop Boys or Human League. Not even close. They might have been playing more or less the same game as Frankie Goes to Hollywood, but not in anything like the same league. Those other guys were kicking around the sandlots of double-A ball; New Order, man, they were stroking them over the fences in The Show. Their stuff was always a cut above, clever, catchy, technologically glossy without being purely mechanical, and always almost ludicrously danceable, if, yes, sometimes to the point of being downright hypnotic. That can be fun too, you know, done just right. Put a stiff drink in your hand, slap something like Temptation on the platter, and drift off into theta brainwave trance mode. Oh, you’ve got green eyes, oh you’ve got blue eyes, oh you’ve got grey eyes….
New Order was at peak popularity in the 80s and a staple of that decade’s dance club scene, but it was in the early 90s, with Regret, off the album Republic, that they really hit their peak. The emphasis shifted a bit away from the synthesizers in favour of relatively conventional electric guitars, and the bass groove is as usual utterly, compulsively rhythmic, yet now also forms the track’s contrapuntal harmonic backbone. Overall the approach sounds fresh and new, even – dare I say it – more mature, almost to the point of breaking away from techie synth-pop toward something more broadly appealing, while no less suitable for the venues in which New Order made their ducats. There’s even something a little reflective, a little wistful about it, as the narrator reproaches himself for being moody, dissolute, and slow to catch on to what’s really important. It’s called Regret, after all.
Just wait till tomorrow
I guess that’s what they all say
Just before they fall apart