The very idea of a New Order without the inclusion of Peter Hook seemed sheer sacrilege to the devout following. Their tenth studio album ‘Superheated’ is definitely indulging in new territory and although Hook has departed, there is energy and experimentation present within this record. The Mancunicans made bold statement with comeback and album opener ‘Restless’ which is undoubtedly their strongest and most sincere single for numerous years, perhaps even decades.
Its operatic synth introduction reminisce further than New Order’s history into early Joy Division formulaic structure with piercing production contrasting the disconcerted vocal of Bernard Sumner. Its chorus has an indifferent, anthemic quality as the somber repetition of ‘restless’ echoes over and over before more theatrical dynamism drives this track to casual crescendo. This is clearly an album of intent and an exercise in alternative dance showmanship with an average track length of over six minutes showcasing primal, pristine production values. ‘Plastic’ is awash of 90s garage house beats and digital trance undertones designed to recapture the noir hedonism of a New Order live show.
The album was marketed and anticipated with the news of three large guest vocal collaborators. The first to appear is Elly Jackson of La Roux on ‘Tutti Frutti’ adding sultry tones to the downtempo dance cut that channels a tropicana vibe similar to Jackson’s 2014 LP ‘Trouble In Paradise’. She does not take a central position upon this song yet adds a composure and sophistication akin to the New Order aesthetic and approach to music creation. Similarly on the album’s closing number ‘Superheated’ Brandon Flowers simply enhances a pre-existing high quality piece of synth pop with his emboldening vocal that matches the 80s sound ideally. Iggy Pop is perhaps more egotistical as his recognisably gruff vocal runs through a six minute monologue over a forgettable instrumental that would have made a subpar interlude otherwise.
The album title of ‘Music Complete’ is appropriate of the group’s overall vision for this tenth release. It is undoubtedly the most complete and consistent release from the group in over a decade and once again affirms their status as innovators of new wave, able to step far from the shadow of Joy Division. The absence of Peter Hook has not affected the group’s process is a noticeable way, allowing an invigorated creative freedom. Carefully chosen collaborations, highly polished production and a review of their previous discography makes for a strong return from New Order.