New Order, Power, Corruption and Lies, 1983, Factory Records
Age of Consent
We All Stand
5 8 6
Your Silent Face
Leave Me Alone
After Joy Division ended with Ian Curtis’ death in 1980, the surviving band members, along with keyboardist Gillian Gilbert formed New Order and went on to become one of the most well respected electronic bands of the 1980s.
While the shadow of Joy Division was understandably hard to shake off, not least because the first tracks they released as New Order were written when they were still Joy Division, it was with this, their second album that New Order were able to fully develop their own alt-dance style, a fusion of rock, dance beats and electronica.
Age of Consent, one of New Order’s most revered songs kicks the album off, telling the story of the end of a relationship. I can’t really understand the hype. It seems a bit dirge-y to me and Bernard Sumner’s vocal sounds strained. The beat is good though. We All Stand has a gentle, other-worldly kind of sound to it with a piano focus. The are also real drums on here, which is comforting for us rock kids. The Village is a much more upbeat track with a decent drum beat and an incredibly abrupt ending. 5 8 6 is just so synthy, to my ears it almost sounds like a modern parody of an ‘80s band, but the longer you listen the more you realise what a good dance track it is. You can also easily pick out elements that were soon to become standard parts of mainstream dance, techno and house music. The Kraftwork inspired Your Silent Face is a more melancholy track with some cool guitar work, it’s beautiful and one of the album’s best tracks. Ultraviolence harks back to Joy Division with it’s dark, threatening tone built around the guitars and drums. After instrumental Ecstasy comes Leave Me Alone, which ends the album with a strong beat and more of a rocky sound although there is a definite Pet Shop Boys vibe to the vocal.
Minimalist cover art was a feature of all the band’s albums as were the colour codes on the edge of the album covers, all of which were designed by the band’s art director Peter Saville. Saville liked to hide the name of the band and the album or single in the colour coding featured on the edge of the album sleeve. The flowers are meant to represent the seduction of the three elements of the album title. Like The Clash’s seminal London Calling, Power, Corruption and Lies was honoured by the Royal Mail with its very own stamp in 2010.
The album famously doesn't feature Blue Monday, New Order’s most successful single (indeed the most successful single release ever in the UK at the time) and you feel it’s absence as it would have elevated the album overall. If you like electronic music and if you are interested in it’s evolution, this is an important album to listen to. The highlight for me was picking out elements that are recognizable from the work of later artists. Since this is not a style I am a particular fan of, there wasn't a track that I can say I genuinely loved but I can see how well thought out it this album is, so if electronic music is your thing it will stand the test of time as a great, emotion packed, pioneering example of the genre.
New Order influenced a diverse number of bands including; Smashing Pumpkins, Primal Scream, Arcade Fire and their poppyier contemporaries the Pet Shop Boys. Their importance to music continues and in recent years, albeit with a changed line-up, they have started creating new music again and have been nominated for awards. You can catch them on tour in mainland europe during the autumn of 2019.