After 2005’s leaden Waiting for the Sirens’ Call and the subsequent departure of Peter Hook, New Order seemed to be washed up. However, this ninth studio album proper, the first with Gillian Gilbert since 2001, finds them revisiting the Balearic influences of their late-80s output and sounding surprisingly fresh and rejuvenated as a result. Tutti Frutti, with Gilbert’s synths to the fore and a guest vocal from La Roux’s Elly Jackson, is one of several songs that would have sat nicely on 1989’s career-high Technique, with Academic a thrilling echo of that album’s All the Way. Even without Hook’s distinctive bass, every song still sounds unmistakably like New Order, with the intriguing exception of Stray Dog, in which Iggy Pop gruffly intones a poem written by Bernard Sumner at a speed that’s at odds with the propulsive backdrop, an effect that’s reminiscent of Public Service Broadcasting. It all makes for an unexpectedly coherent return.
Phil Mongredien works on the Guardian's opinion desk. He also reviews albums for Q magazine