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Thursday, April 28, 2005

Review - Waiting for the Sirens' Call

Artist: New Order

Posted on Thu, Apr 28, 2005 at 4:00 AM

Maybe love didn't tear them apart (again), but perennially mopey Joy Division survivors New Order have certainly seen their share of diminished expectations in the face of diminishing returns. Their Factory electro-insubordination blossomed into a dream kitchen of marketable predictability through the late '80s, earning them a foot-shuffling spot next to Depeche Mode and Erasure in the decade's inexplicably successful major-label Brit-dance overthrow. Arena gigs beckoned and a droll "How does it feel?" by the early '90s gave way to the downright chipper answer, "There is nothing I regret." Singer Bernard Sumner duly – and publicly – made short order of his antidepressants. Hacienda, indeed.

These days, New Order occupy the rare space of respectable legends, still banging out formulaic reinterpretations of their own model with only mild adjustments (see 2001's comeback, Get Ready, and its right-twist of the knob on the guitar amp), and still as comfortable-sounding as your first college apartment. Waiting for the Sirens' Call can therefore be forgiven for not kicking over the keyboard stand into the bass in a fit of artistic redirection. It's clearly not a time for surprises, and after this long, it probably shouldn't be.

What Waiting offers is some of the most vintage-sounding New Order you'd never expect to still be able to enjoy in 2005. The title track drifts along with the call-and-response chorus style so symptomatic of Sumner's lazy genius, and lead single "Krafty" takes his typical mountains-to-molehills lyrical approach to new depths, offering that "They've got violence, wars and killing, too, all shrunk down in a two-foot tube." Light permutations pop up here and there (including an unwelcome cameo by Scissor Sister Ana Matronic on the least likable track, "Jetstream"), but for the most part, it's a windswept walk through a Manchester park, head tickled by reflection and nostalgia but feet still moving dutifully forward.

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