From the beginning, the heart of New Order was the throb: Springy guitars and rubber-band-taut dance rhythms blended together to form a pulsating sound that was half rock, half disco (and all human). New Order spent most of the last decade either in retirement or indulging in marginal side projects. Yet the throb endured and, before we knew it, became one of the most influential sounds of the last two decades, heard on records by the Smashing Pumpkins, Moby, Pet Shop Boys, U2, and Primal Scream (many of whom also worship Joy Division, New Order’s previous incarnation).
On their first album since 1993’s Republic, New Order roll out that trademark sound again, and it’s never sounded stronger or more vigorous. Coming after the sluggish Republic, Get Ready is a stunning and confident return to form, particularly in its first half. The bumpy love songs ”Crystal” and ”Vicious Streak” recapture the spring in the band’s gloomy step and add emotional warmth and a near-symphonic sonic rapture, not to mention louder, more brazen guitars. No one’s ever declared singer-guitarist Bernard Sumner a poet, and based on ”Get Ready,” they never will: ”You’re everything to me/The sweetest symphony/All that I try to be/You are my harmony/I guess is what I meant to say,” goes one typically clumsy verse. Yet his voice, as well as the band itself, sounds ageless. The clammy elegance of early classics like ”Blue Monday” may be gone forever, but the band manages something else — a savage maturity.
After its strong start, ”Get Ready” lags a bit. With Primal Scream’s Bobby Gillespie shouting along, ”Rock the Shack” is whooping, careening, let’s-get-it-on alt- party rock, but the very early-’90s techno burble of ”Someone Like You” and ”Close Range” makes you wish the band had gotten out more. None of it, though, hampers the vitality at the album’s core. More so than in a while, New Order are throbbing with life.