The Other Two The Other Two & You
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Stephen Morris and Gillian Gilbert's debut album outside of New Order was seen to be a bit of catch-up to the debut efforts of Electronic and Revenge -- openly acknowledged in their band name -- while its delay in release due to the collapse of Factory Records made it seem more of a late response than it really was. But the Other Two had already worked on a variety of projects beforehand, most notably for various film and TV soundtracks (something especially audible here on the instrumental "Ninth Configuration"), and this engaging listen arguably sounds better at a distance than it did at the time. The inevitable focus is on Gilbert's vocals, only rarely heard in New Order -- her smooth but gently passionate singing here simply suits the material perfectly, perhaps most beautifully on the gorgeous synth/guitar break on "The Greatest Thing." Morris' interest in the possibilities of electronic percussion as well as acoustic also comes to the fore -- the shuffling beats on "Moving On," matched with a rhythmic acoustic guitar part for further drive, and the murky, slow rumble of the brief "Night Voice" are good contrasts to the crisper punch of songs like the sparkling lead single "Tasty Fish" and "Innocence." More than once The Other Two & You sounds like a full companion piece to New Order's Republic, but unlike that off- and on-again effort by the full band, the crisp electronic dramatics here work as a whole -- it could be that simply by not having to be "New Order," with attendant expectations, Morris and Gilbert found a way to make their own sound work more strongly. Meantime, given the keyboard/vocalist duos of a new century that followed, while it's a stretch to call the Other Two a direct inspiration for acts like the Knife (they're definitely nowhere near as unsettlingly strange as said Swedish act), they definitely showed that there was nothing wrong with the approach. LTM's 2010 reissue of the album, besides containing the expected detailed history of the group, includes a raft of remixes from the attendant singles -- Terry Farley and Pete Heller's "That Pop Mix" for "Selfish" is the standout.