New Order are one of the great singles band of all time: ‘Blue Monday’, ‘Temptation’, ‘Ceremony’ and ‘True Faith’ are all stone-cold classics despite never featuring on a studio album proper (sorry, the ‘Substance’ compilation doesn't count here). But fans will know that the Manchester group had quite the pedigree as an albums band, if you manage to dedicate your time to sinking your teeth into their weighty discography. Here, then, is our absolutely correct ranking of the band’s albums from worst, to best.
9. Waiting for The Sirens’ Call (2005)
New Order’s eighth studio album found the group – as is often the case – in a state of flux. It was the first to be recorded without well-loved band member Gillian Gilbert and the last to be made with original bassist Peter Hook, who left in 2007. And frankly, it’s a bit of a mess. The group dabble with a budget REM impersonation on ‘Hey Now What You Doing’ and the album’s second half nosedives after the dire ‘Dracula’s Castle’, finally skidding to a halt on the wishy-washy post-punk closer ‘Working Overtime’. This is the sound of a group not knowing their place in the world, or knowing what New Order should sound like in the Noughties. One for the purists.
8. Get Ready (2001)
A patchy return to their roots, but it does harbour one of the best New Order tracks this side of millennium in the shape of bone-crunching album opener ‘Crystal’. There are duff moments, for sure, but the bright spots like the experimental ‘Someone Like You’ and the wobbling ‘Slow Jam’ meant the group’s return from hiatus was a worthwhile, if only for a hot minute.
7. Republic (1993)
With about 20 years of hindsight, drummer Stephen Morris told Noisey that ‘Republic’ was “a very, very unpleasant record to make. And we shouldn’t have made it, really” At this point in their career, the band’s record label Factory was in dire straits and ‘Republic’ was being made to alleviate that situation, all the while with serious tensions simmering between the band members. The indie-disco classic ‘Regret’ is the one that’ll spring to your spring to mind, but ‘Republic’ shows the band clinging on to their raving days with mixed results. The pulsating ‘Spooky’ is a worthwhile deep cut to sink your teeth into, as is the Italo-disco-tinged ‘Ruined In A Day’. But for every highlight, there’s a devastating low, like the grim faux-rapping from Sumner on ‘Times Change’ and the utterly forgettable ‘Avalanche’.
6. Music Complete (2015)
We’ll be honest, we didn’t think New Order still had a good album in them at this point. However, 2015’s ‘Music Complete’ found the band completely reinvigorated, toeing the line between carving out a mature sound but still being up for a mad one. ‘Tuttifrutti’ may well be one of their finest dance moments, while ‘People On The Highline’ and ‘Plastic’ are speckled with acid-house goodness. A band refusing to age gracefully and being all the better for it.
5. Movement (1981)
Best viewed as a snapshot into the transition from Joy Division to New Order as opposed to than a debut album proper, ‘Movement’ was released 18 months after the death of Joy Division frontman Ian Curtis, and the band were almost certainly still finding their feet as what the new group were all about. There are hints of what the band would become – there are pop melodies and hyperactive basslines aplenty – but it’s the singles from this era, like ‘Ceremony’, ‘Procession’ and ‘Temptation’ – absent from the LP – that gave off the encouraging signs.
4. Brotherhood (1986)
‘Brotherhood’ shows a band in the midst of battle for their own soul – and it sounds tremendous. The record’s first half is awash with slinking guitar-led anthems such as ‘Broken Promise’ and some of Hooky’s best bass work in the shape of ‘Way Of Life’, but the album’s latter half is where the party is. Kicked off by what we’ve called their “perfect pop moment”, ‘Bizarre Love Triangle’, this side builds on ‘Low-Life’s more electronic moments in subtle ways. ‘All Day Long’, all regal synths and pounding drums, acts as a compromise between their conflicting sounds, and ‘Every Second Counts’ sounds like the demo song on your old-school Yamaha keyboard, but, you know, pretty good.
3. Technique (1989)
Without a doubt the most fun entry in New Order’s daunting catalogue. Partly recorded in Ibiza and influenced by clubs in New York and London, consider this the most carefree album of the bunch. Balearic beats dominate ‘Fine Time’, ‘Round and Round’ and unsurprisingly ‘Mr Disco’ as the band deftly combine their unparalleled musicianship with the ability to write big fucking bangers. There’s a couple for the indie kids like ‘All The Way’, but this one’s purpose built for ravers, and it’s the club-owning powerhouse operating at their hedonistic peak.
2. Low-Life (1985)
Expanding on the new-wave mastered on previous album ‘Power, Corruption & Lies’, here each song is trying to outdo the last in terms of creativity as the group dabble with house, rock, and beyond. ‘Love Vigilantes’ is a folk-tinged wonder, ‘The Perfect Kiss’ is one of their pop highlights and ‘Elegia’ is an experimental masterpiece – this album will not sit still and will not be pigeon-holed.
1. Power, Corruption & Lies (1983)
‘Power, Lies & Corruption’ is the defining New Order release. After ‘Movement’, the weight of expectation had been lifted and the group were able to push their sound and songwriting into bold new places. ‘Age Of Consent’, for one, features one of Hooky’s finest basslines and ‘5-8-6’ saw the band build on the club-ready sound from 1983 single ‘Blue Monday’. ‘Power, Corruption & Lies’ also features some of Sumner’s lyrical peaks. Teenage love rules ‘The Village’s (“Our love is like the flowers / The rain, the sea and the hours”) and there’s acerbic wit on ‘Your Silent Face’ “You’ve caught me at a bad time/So why don’t you piss off.”
It remains a towering accomplishment. One that not only proved to be the band’s finest, but one that informed much of the following decade’s music: The Happy Mondays, The Stone Roses, Hot Chip and more kneel at the altar of ‘Power Corruption & Lies’. One listen and you will too.