Ten years after their last album proper – 2005’s ‘Waiting For The Sirens’ Call’ – eight years after bassist Peter Hook left under a cloud, sparking a press war of words that endures to this day, and four years after they briefly reunited to play a few benefit gigs for an ailing label boss, New Order are finally back to making albums.
Their forthcoming 10th studio release will be called ‘Music Complete’, and arrives on September 25 of this year, featuring collaborations with the likes of La Roux, Iggy Pop and Brandon Flowers.
Tom Rowlands of The Chemical Brothers returns the favour of singer Bernard Sumner’s appearance on ‘Out Of Control’, by producing two tracks, ‘Singularity’ and ‘Unlearn This Hatred’, while Stuart Price – the Madonna, Killers and Les Rythmes Digitales producer – also worked on album closer ‘Superheated’.
As opposed to their last two guitar-based outings in 2001 and 2005, ‘Music Complete’ harks back to the loose, groove-based electronica of early-’80s classics like ‘Low-Life’. “At the end of the ’90s, I’d reached a point where I’d said everything I wanted to say about making an electronic record,” says Sumner.
However, changes in technology since then have brought the band back to their roots. “In the old days, we were always struggling to get the sounds we wanted,” Sumner explains. “Nowadays, though, the weapons work.” At the same time, he doesn’t feel ‘Music Complete’ is a piece of self-referencing retro: “You can’t run away from yourself, can you… I write an electronic song in a certain way, and that’s never going to change.” Most of the album was made at Sumner’s studio, and the farm that drummer Stephen Morris and returning keyboardist Gillian Gilbert share outside Macclesfield.
Brandon Flowers, who also appears on final track ‘Superheated’, is a long-time friend of the band. “When we’ve been on tours, we bump into them. He came onstage with us 10 years ago to do ‘Crystal’ at T In The Park. I went to his gig a few weeks ago in Manchester, to do ‘Bizarre Love Triangle’.”
While La Roux, who features on three tracks: ‘Tutti Frutti', ‘People On The High Line’, and ‘Plastic’, was a touring partner whose voice Sumner admired. “She’s got a chest voice and a head one. I wanted her to sing from the chest voice so I asked her specifically to choose that voice.”
Iggy Pop the band met via a Tibet House charity gig organised by minimalist composer Philip Glass. “It was quite a special moment to play with him, actually, because the first time I ever went round to IanCurtis’s house, he said, ‘Have you heard this?’, and he put on the brand new Iggy record, and I thought it was absolutely brilliant.”
The track he features on – ‘Stray Dog’ – is a spoken-word piece, based on a poem Sumner wrote in a melancholy moment shortly after Christmas. “When I wrote this poem, immediately, I could hear him on it. So I did this really bad Iggy impression, sent it to him. Got an email back saying he could do it, and we comp-ed it together from three takes.”
Sumner doesn’t rule out the prospect of Iggy joining them to perform it live, but for now, the band seems more excited about taking a dance-fuelled album out on tour for the first time since 1993’s ‘Republic’. “Over the past three years of touring, it’s been amazing to see how well the dance stuff goes down live,” agrees new bassist Tom Chapman, “That got us in the mood – we just wanted to write some more dance stuff.”