Do You Feel Lucky?

(and feel free to comment! My older posts are certainly no less relevant to the burning concerns of the day.)

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

A Little More Musical Reviewage: Bad Lieutenant

Phil Cunningham (Ex-New Order)
Jake Evans (Ex-Rambo and Leroy)
Bernard Sumner (Ex-New Order)

Album: Never Cry Another Tear
Single: "Sink Or Swim"

So I picked up Bad Lieutenant's new album. I'm only about three listens into it, early days yet, but - it's good. Pending the eventual mental readjustment (as the initial blush fades and distance brings perspective), I'd say it's as good or better than 2 out of the past 3 New Order platters - possibly 2 out of the past 4.

Some caveats: I was fiercely disappointed at the way that last NO breakup went down. When the remaining 3 members decided to soldier on after Hook's announcement, I was mentally pre-committed to giving them a full fair shot. I've got terrific goodwill toward all these musicians, and I don't exclude Hook from that. It's none of my business how the whole thing went down, though if I ever see Clint Boon I'm going to drop-kick his fucking head over the nearest convenient national landmark. I don't blame Peter Hook; it's not his fault he let a pissant satellite radio interviewer goad him into a escalating spate of statements he'd be too big a bitch to take back later. That's not the sort of thing you can blame Peter Hook for. He don't mean anything by it. It's just his way. In fact, I've been trying to track down a that album from Hook's erstwhile New Order knockoff band Monaco (Music for Pleasure if I recall correctly). I've always meant to check that out, see what it was all about.

So, with things as they were I was kind of let down to see Stephen Morris relegated to 'additional musician' in the liner notes, but I'm sure that was his choice and clearly the project has his blessing.

Pissy politics aside: there are some strong tunes on here. Quibbles at first: I kind of wished Sumner had done all the lead vocals. He steps back on about a third of the tracks and lets one of the other guys have a go at the lead, for at least part of the song. I so very much love the well-worn warmth and comfort of Sumner's virtuoso .95 octave vocal range, and this pass-the-mic approach was anathema to my Barney-starved ears. But I have to admit, the other guys both do a creditable job. So after a few listens, my initial resistance to having someone else sing lead has pretty much given way. I'm glad Sumner leads most of the way, but several of the tracks where the lead trades off throughout are very effective. It's an interesting and (eventually!) welcome wrinkle.

In terms of sound, style, production, there are definitely a lot of familiar grace notes that will ease New Order fans into it, but this is no New Order album. There's a different chemistry on display (I'd say very different - more so than Electronic's first album, for example), not only in terms of the individual contributions, but also in the melodies chosen and the way the songs are put together. It's less a pure thing than New Order (as could be said of all we have left to us in this world, alas). But it is an interesting alloy nonetheless - sturdy enough to bear weight and sharp enough for the hooks to pierce deep and hold fast.

I give it an ear and a half so far, and one of my ears is worth at least two of anybody else's fucking stars.


limom said...

Interesting. I haven't checked out New Order since Get Ready and am bummed that they are no longer.
Gotta say, looks like New Order, smells like New Order, sounds like New Order; though I haven't heard the rest of the album.
I say interesting for after seeing some stuff on YouTube, I was getting more than a little interested in Joy Division. I have one CD called Permanent, but I don't think it really represents JD's whole body of work.
Looking to find the roots of the sound I guess.

dogimo said...

My feeling is they chose the New Orderiest song as the first single to ease us into it.

Joy Division - I probably need to dig a little deeper there myself, but I've heard a good bit of it and I've always preferred NO, so far. But some pretty keen-eared folks are gaga over J÷, so.