Joy Division’s lead singer Ian Curtis took his own life on the eve of the band’s first US tour in 1980. The band rebranded as New Order – taking their name from a newspaper article titled The People’s New Order of Kampuchea. They added Gillian Gilbert, the girlfriend of drummer Stephen Morris, on keyboards and guitar, while guitarist Bernard Sumner took over as lead singer.
New Order’s career started quietly, with debut Movement recalling Joy Division and only just scraping into the UK top 30. But the group’s career took shape with the 1982 single ‘Temptation’, adding danceable rhythms inspired by Kraftwerk and Giorgio Moroder. Like a lot of British groups, their singles were often separate from their singles – New Order songs like ‘Blue Monday’, ‘Thieves Like Us’, and ‘True Faith’ weren’t included on their original studio records. This placed New Order’s albums and singles in relief with each other – while their singles were dance-floor fillers, their albums were still sometimes austere and introspective.
New Order Album Reviews
The change from the gloom of Joy Division to the more upbeat sounds of New Order singles like ‘True Faith’ and ‘World in Motion’ wasn’t instantaneous. New Order’s debut Movement is clearly transitional – instrumentally, it’s very similar to the post-punk of Joy Division with Morris’ robotic drumming and Hook’s bass as the lead instrument, as well as Martin Hannett’s production. The sound is sweetened by Gilbert’s synths, but the key difference is the vocals. Sumner and Hook take over on lead vocals – while they both use a low register, they don’t have Curtis’ gloomy gravitas, and their lyrics aren’t as chilling.
Even where they’re a little confused musically, there are still great moments on Movement. Opening track ‘Dreams Never End’ has great guitar lines from Sumner, while it’s interesting to hear some pop creep into the group’s sound on ‘Chosen Time’. Hook does a passable Curtis impersonation on ‘Doubts Even Here’.
While Movement is a respectable post-punk record, it doesn’t play to Sumner’s strengths as a vocalist, and they’d flourish as they pursued a pop direction.