Get It At Discogs
Following Ian Curtis’ suicide in 1980, Joy Division renamed themselves New Order with the addition of Gillian Gilbert on keyboards. Although they were the ultimate alternative indie band with plaintive, vulnerable lyrics, all four band members were multi-instrumentalists and were soon coating their basic guitar sound in swathes of synthesizers and bass (played almost as a lead guitar), backed up with expansive drum patterns and sequenced beats. They played a prominent role in most of the music movements of the 80s, ranging from the synth pop of the New Romantics to the dance rock of Madchester Rave, from the ground-breaking dance electro of Blue Monday to the acid house of Fine Time. The recording of this album coincided with Bernard Sumner undergoing a divorce from his first wife and this is reflected in many of the bitter lyrics: "I worked hard to give you all the things that you need, and almost everything that you see, I spent a lifetime working for you, and you won’t even talk to me" (Love Less). Drug problems with heroin and ecstacy also played their part to create a band that was falling apart at the seams: "You work your way to the top of the world, and then you break your life in two. What the hell is happening? I can’t think of everything. I don’t know what day it is or who I’m talking to" (Run). Compared to the all-knowing doom and pretend lyrics of Ian Curtis, what makes the record is Sumner’s searing honesty as he gropes for half-truths in his emotional confusion. Moments of epiphany "it takes years to find the nerve to be apart from what you’ve done, to find the truth inside yourself, not depend on anyone" (All The Way) rub shoulders with those of despair "I can’t find my piece of mind, ‘cos I need you with me all the time, used to think about you night and day, didn’t care what other people would say. I’ve tried but I can’t find you, tell me now, what do I do?" (Mr Disco). If Ian Curtis’ personal problems were part of the attraction of Joy Division, then the same could be said of Bernard Sumner’s own issues. With father unknown and his mother suffering from cerebral palsy, calling himself at various junctures Bernard Sumner, Bernard Dickin and Bernard Albrecht, this is a man desperately searching for his own identity: "The picture you see is no portrait of me, it’s too real to be shown to someone I don’t know" (Round & Round). He also hints darkly at child abuse in the song Vanishing Point (as he had done in the previous album in All Day Long). If this all sounds a bit grim, then there is also an ever-present sense of humour here as well. You could never imagine Joy Division calling a song Mr Disco, impersonating the soul singer Barry White’s bass profondo with a ridiculous lyric such as "you know, I’ve met a lot of chicks, but I’ve never met a girl with all her own teeth", opening a song with a fit of coughing or closing out with the sound of bleating sheep. Technique was New Order’s first UK no.1 album and they followed it up in the summer with their first UK no.1 single World in Motion. It was the last of a quartet of outstanding studio albums, with the various musical components competing for supremacy: the bass and drums of Power, Corruption and Lies, the synthesizers of Lowlife, the guitars of Brotherhood and the dance beats of Technique. However, the tensions that helped to fuel the creativity of the album, spawning perhaps their strongest collection of songs with lyrics to match, inevitably entailed the band’s implosion. They have re-formed to make three further (unfortunately fairly average) albums over the last fifteen years, undoubtedly tarnishing their reputation by doing so, but nothing can take away the legacy they left behind throughout the 80s.