Produced by Stephen Hague & New Order
Label – London
The turbulence that wells beneath “Republic”, New Order’s first full length recording in four years, defies the polished dance/Pop veneer producer Stephen Hague and the band managed to create. The dark undercurrent comes through Bernard Sumner’s introspective lyrics, discreet references to a period of hard drug infused partying, a far from amicable split with Factory Records and the tempestuous relationship with owner Tony Wilson. Following the success of 1989s “Technique”, the Manchester four piece embarked on a North American tour of which Sumner would admit “we burned the candle at both ends”. A return to the U.K., a much needed hiatus, and various off shoot projects which frustrated Factory, who by the early 90’s were basically insolvent and needed the financial boost from their biggest act. Writing and rehearsal started half heartedly at the Macclesfield home of keyboard and drumming partners Gillian Gilbert and Stephen Morris in 1991, but the imminent collapse of the record label (of which the band reputedly weren’t informed) meant that negotiation over a new contract with London Records would further delay the release. The resultant culmination of their activities is oddly more mainstream than anything the band had previously recorded, owing more to the band that they were once glorious peers to, The Pet Shop Boys. Gone are the trademark Hooky basslines, Sumner’s choppy guitar and more importantly the atmospheric musical space, to be replaced by shiny synth melodies and detailed production.
That’s not to deny there are some outstanding moments though. “Regret” is quite simply one of New Order’s best singles. The memorable opening and recurring riff, a superb, if rare Hook bass lead and lyrics that describe Sumner’s yearning for a normal life, it fully deserved its top flight chart status throughout many continents. The moodier, but just as vital “Ruined In A Day” shows the band haven’t lost the knack for crafting sinewy rhythms to complement their synthetic cinematics. There are hints to the collapse of Factory on “Chemical”, “Times Change” and “Special”, and the words to “Liar” sound poisonously directed towards Tony Wilson. The band overstretch themselves occasionally, particularly the ill advised rapping on “Times Change” and the PSB derivative “Young Offender” but these are glitches in an otherwise fine collection.
Four years in the making, and although not New Order’s best it was still worth the wait.
3.”Ruined in a Day” 4:22
5.”Everyone Everywhere” 4:24
6.”Young Offender” 4:48
9.”Times Change” 3:52