After the death of Joy Division lead vocalist Ian Curtis, the remainder of the band had a decision to make: stop or continue. They continued, albeit under a new name, New Order, and with the addition of a new member, keyboardist Gillian Gilbert. Any fears that the legacy of Joy Division would overshadow them were put to bed with the release of their second album, 1983’s Power, Corruption & Lies. Their fusion of post-punk, electronic, and dance music turned them into one of the most acclaimed bands of the 1980s, serving as an influence on everyone from The Happy Mondays to Hot Chip. After dis-banding briefly in the early 1990s, they reunited in 1997, and continue to tour and record to this day. Here, we take a look back at their enduring legacy as we rank all the New Order albums from worst to best.
10. Waiting For The Sirens’ Call
Kicking things off is New Order’s eighth studio album, Waiting For The Sirens’ Call, the last of their albums to be made with original bassist Peter Hook and their first to be recorded without keyboardist Gillian Gilbert. The band were in a state of flux, and it shows. The songwriting is clumsy, the performances are lackluster, and the songs verge from weak (Working Overtime) to dire (Dracula’s Castle). Even die-hard fans would struggle to find a kind word for it.
9. Lost Sirens
Considering that Waiting For The Sirens’ Call is generally considered the weakest of all New Order’s albums, an album comprising of tracks that didn’t even make it past the final cut isn’t exactly an exciting proposition. But as Andy Gill of the Independent comments, Lost Sirens actually bests its parent album by some way. It might not be in the same class as the band’s best work, but feel-good tracks like I Told You So, Sugarcane and Hellbent make it a worthwhile listen.
Republic wasn’t made in the happiest of circumstances. Tensions in the band were running high and their records label, Factory, was at the point of collapse. Republic was intended to alleviate some of the label’s financial issues, but as drummer Stephen Morris later said, it was “a very, very unpleasant record to make. And we shouldn’t have made it, really.” There are a few redeeming moments (Spooky and Ruined In a Day are both worth the effort) but not enough to save the album’s descent into forgettable mediocrity.
7. Get Ready
There’s no denying that 2001’s Get Ready has a few low points. But those low moments are few and far between. The songwriting is powerful, the performances are vigorous, and on emotionally charged tracks like Someone Like You, Slow Jam, and the phenomenal Crystal, the band sounds stronger than they had in years. It may not have been a complete return to form, but it’s still an excellent album.
6. Music Complete
In 2015, New Order returned with their first album of new material in 10 years. It was also their first album to be recorded as a quintet rather than a four-piece (founding member Gillian Gilbert was back after a decade-long absence, but her replacement, Phil Cunningham, stayed too) and their first with new label Mute Record. It was also their first resounding success in a long, long time. It’s mature but by no means boring, with enough acid house grooviness and pulsating dance moments to show that, middle-aged or not, the band still had their finger on the pulse of the music scene.
Movement was released just 18 months after the death of Joy Divison frontman Ian Curtis, and in many ways, it’s as much Joy Division’s final album as it is New Order’s debut. Slant Magazine described it as existing “almost exactly in between Joy Division’s post-punk sound and the synth-pop style that would come to define New Order and influence pop music for decades,” which hits the nail on the head. At the time of its release, critics savaged it, but it’s since come to be seen as one of the defining albums of the ’80s.
For their fourth studio album, New Order decamped to Ibiza, where the island’s club scene inspired them to create their most playful, carefree, and unapologetically fun album to date. The lyrics are mature, but the songs themselves are almost unrelentingly chirpy and upbeat. It’s drenched in good vibes, and as NME says, with the exception of a couple of tracks for the indie kids like All The Way, this is an album purpose-built for ravers from a band at their hedonistic peak.
Brotherhood, the band’s fourth studio album, is a slightly schizophrenic melting blend of post-punk and electronic styles. One side is given over to slinky guitars, hooky bass lines, and rock-led anthems, the other is a dream of silvery synths and disco beats. It doesn’t always work, but where it does, the results are phenomenal. Case in point, Bizarre Love Triangle – one of the most perfect pop moments of any band, ever.
After the superb Power, Corruption & Lies, expectations were riding high for New Order’s third album. Low-Life didn’t disappoint. After pushing their sound and songwriting to the limit on its predecessor, this was the album where their signature fusion of rock and electronics became seamless. Artistically, it’s hugely experimental, with the band playing fast and loose with sound and style. But whereas some albums lose their heart the more innovative they get, this doesn’t. As All Music says, every moment is wrapped in an unmistakable humanness, resulting in an extraordinary album that doesn’t lose an ounce of approachability in its creativity.
1. Power, Corruption & Lies
Technically, Movement was the first New Order album, but for many fans, Power, Corruption & Lies is their debut proper. This was where they cast off the shadow of Joy Division and emerged as New Order, a band prepared to push beyond expectations and journey into territories no other band had even dreamt of exploring. Whether you call it a declaration of independence, a statement of intent, or simply one of the finest records of the ’80s, this is an album that not only cemented New Order’s status as one of the most exciting dance-rock acts in history, but one that continues to inform and inspire countless bands to this day.