Perfectly decent indie-rock, but not a patch on New Order’s finest albums.
Mike Diver 2009-10-05
The best thing about the various New Order splinter groups to have emerged over the years – be they initiated during a parent group hiatus, or entirely on-the-side callings – is that they all sounded a bit like New Order. Because, basically, New Order were brilliant. Period. Even when reaching the dusk of their career, with 2005’s patchy parting shot Waiting for the Sirens’ Call, the Manchester band could still pull excellent singles out of whatever bag they kept locked away in the studio. Listen again to Krafty and, particularly, the album’s title track – they’re not solid-gold hits by the band’s own high standards, but the quality’s there to hear.
Bad Lieutenant sees New Order vocalist Bernard Sumner team up with Phil Cunningham – who joined the band officially in 2004, replacing founder Gillian Gilbert – and newcomer Jake Evans, who shares vocal responsibilities. Former New Order drummer Stephen Morris will man the kit for live performances, and can be seen in the video for this debut album’s lead single, Sink or Swim. The best aspect of said track: it sounds a bit like New Order, albeit the late-era variety rather than the one that helped define alternative music in the 1980s. And that’s both a blessing and a curse.
New Order still have a lot of fans, a side-effect of being quite so brilliant. And these fans will continually be interested in any new project that features the oddly detached-yet-delicate tones of Sumner, and Morris’s involvement seals the deal. But because of the impression left by records like 1983’s Power, Corruption & Lies and 1989’s Balearic-of-beat Technique, comparisons to the pair’s previous endeavours will forever precede evaluation of the material at hand. If you’re after evidence, clearly you’ve not read any of the above.
But, to briefly touch upon what predictably enough pales in comparison to anything New Order produced up to (and including) 1993’s underrated Republic: Never Cry Another Tear is a perfectly decent indie-rock album full of perfectly decent indie-rock tunes, which will find a home on the shelves of any halfway discerning indie-rock fan. A couple of duds – the dreary closer, Head Into Tomorrow, could have been omitted – can be overlooked because, well, it’s Barney. And what Barney likes is usually alright.
Assessing matters at that level of quality control, Bad Lieutenant don’t put a foot wrong.