The Smiths, Jesus and Mary Chain, Stone Roses, Echo & the Bunnymen, Primal Scream, Depeche Mode, The Cure, Siouxsie & the Banshees, etc., etc., ad nauseam.
The British excel themselves in over-rating their 80s bands, crediting them with God-like powers when, in fact, they are all very, very ordinary. With the exception of a handful of singles from the above (e.g. “How Soon Is Now”, “Just Like Honey”), mostly these pop groups were good at getting on the cover of the NME (and now, Mojo), helping spotty bedsit layabouts justify their mopiness and not much else.
It was with this prejudicial frame of mind, I set about listening to the notionally chronological compilation of 12″ mixes by one of the grand-daddies of hyper-regarded 80s pop, New Order.
Let me start by saying I’ve always admired their graphic style and I absolutely love “Blue Monday”. If all NO songs were as classy as their sleeves or as lively and soulful as “BM” we’d be talkin’ 10 fuckin’ stars here. But they aren’t and we aren’t. The first two singles, “Ceremony” and “Everything Gone Green” are promising, picking up where their old band left off, incorporating a more dance-y vibe without sacrificing Joy Div’s appealing murkiness. After that, as the band becomes more commercial, obviously funky and techno-savvy, it’s all downhill. The problem is not so much the music, which is inventive enough, but Bernard Sumner. He simply isn’t that technically good or, more to the point, interesting a singer. His flat, feather-light tone, banal melodies and awkward, deeply uninspired scansion are embarrassingly exposed without the cover provided by the earlier atmospherics. And the lyrics: “Oh, love is found in the east and west/But when love is at home, it’s the best”. He actually sings that on “Theives Like Us”, ugh.
So keep your New Order albums, I’m happy with the early 12″s I already had.