Music Complete New Order Mute/Create Control As far as musical histories go, New Order has quite the story to tell, but rusted-on fans will know it hasn’t always been comfortable telling it. Since forming from the remnants of Joy Division following lead singer Ian Curtis’s suicide in 1980, the band has experienced the full gamut of career twists and turns, from using album sales to bankroll Manchester club and acid house incubator The Hacienda to long hiatuses, label and legal woes and, more recently, the departure of foundation bassist Peter Hook. Amid the break-ups, make-ups and line-up shake-ups, it’s always been New Order’s progressive musical output that has ensured the band’s relevance. Rising from the ashes of post-punk, the band’s early prioritisation of drum machines and synthesisers produced dance-pop hybrid masterpieces Bizarre Love Triangle and the ubiquitous Blue Monday that, with its pulsating bassline and dramatic synths, sounds as fresh today as it did in 1983. Music Complete, the group’s 10th studio album and follow-up to 2005’s Waiting for the Siren’s Call and 2013’s collection of leftovers Lost Sirens, seeks to strike a balance between guitar-led and synth-driven sounds, but the synth prevails. Founding members Bernard Sumner and Stephen Morris, accompanied by Phil Cunningham, newcomer Tom Chapman and, for the first time since 2001 album Get Ready, Gillian Gilbert, have fashioned an energetic and sonically varied album. First single and album opener Restless is far from an album standout, but with its grungy guitars and anthemic chorus centred on greed, it’s certainly a grower. It’s a deceiving opener, too, because it’s largely devoid of electronic influence, when much of what follows isn’t. Singularity, as one of two tracks produced by the Chemical Brothers’ Tom Rowlands, is evocative of the electronic duo’s sound through its fast pace and warbling synth line, and pairs well with Sumner’s brash vocal. On Tutti Frutti the seductive pipes of La Roux’s Elly Jackson link with Sumner in what is a chugging, shiny synth-pop number replete with killer hook, finished off in a flurry of atmospheric strings and crisp drums. Stray Dog comes out of left field, as Iggy Pop bellows throaty, spoken-word ramblings including “the secret of all happiness is unconditional love” on top of leathery synth and guitar stabs; strange, but memorable. Superheated closes proceedings in cheesy 1980s pop territory, as the Killers’ frontman Brandon Flowers delivers a powerful vocal on an underwhelming beat. Iconic and influential are two words routinely associated with New Order, and the weight of expectation that comes with such acclaim has led other bands to overthink, overproduce and ultimately overdo it, especially when advances in technology allow it. As Sumner himself has said: “It becomes complicated when you’ve been doing it for this long.” Thankfully, Music Complete is progressive yet evocative of classic New Order material, a rhythmic, frequently danceable and often catchy offering, and another triumphant chapter in the New Order story.