Waiting For The Sirens' Call
By: Eric Greenwood
The musical ingredients are practically identical to any great New Order album, but Waiting for the Siren's Call is as tepid as tap water. New Order's hybrid of overtly danceable electronics overlayed by organic instrumentation has been its call to arms since it sprang from Joy Division's melodramatic ashes in 1980. At first Bernard Sumner's ridiculously trite lyrics seemed charmingly antithetical to Ian Curtis' caustic poetry, but over time the irony has faded. Now Sumner's absurdist couplets sound cringe-worthy, desperate, and lame.
New Order's last great album was in 1989. Technique pushed the band into its most sophisticated level of electronic experimentation, retaining a menacing sense of melody and a stupendous pop sensibility. Everything since should have been left in the vault, particularly 1993's insultingly dismal Republic. Almost a decade later, Get Ready tried to recapture the band's rock aesthetic, but it merely made the band sound out of touch and irrelevant (I cite "Rock the Shack" as superior evidence). And so Waiting for the Sirens' Call can do little other than pour salt in the wounds of New Order fans the world over.
There used to be a sense of danger surrounding the band. Ian Curtis' ghost lurked in every crevice and watching New Order develop over the years was almost like peering into someone's private journal- you half expected someone to overdose or commit suicide mid-song. That sense of urgency ended with the 1980's, and no driving Peter Hook bass line can ever bring it back. I must admit, though, that watching the band perform "Love Will Tear Us Apart" recently on Jimmy Kimmel affected me more than I could have anticipated. Objectively, it was a cheesy rendition, replete with Sumner's inexplicable crowd-pumping outbursts, but the sentimentality of witnessing members of Joy Division play that song made my hairs stand on end.
Nostalgia aside, New Order is done. It's a lumbering dinosaur. Sumner's breezy choruses can still tap into that esoteric sense of frustration and alienation that all great New Order songs conjure, but it's half-baked, watered down, whatever you want to call it. I am numb to it. For the life of me I cannot fathom how people can claim this album is any sort of return to form. That's just revisionist history. No song on this album pushes the band forward. It's all New Order by the numbers. Gillian Gilbert has been replaced with a guitar tech. Peter Hook is fat. And Bernard Sumner still can't really sing, but it sounds pitiful as opposed to condescendingly amusing.