The Perfect Kiss

Love Vigilantes < The Perfect Kiss > This Time Of Night

Oh how I love the Perfect Kiss video.

Too young to have caught their early tours of duty to the colonies, and with live videos of New Order thin on the ground in 1985, the Perfect Kiss clip was the first time I really saw the band perform. Now they weren’t just a band that released remarkable alternative / dance records that were sleeved obliquely; with the occasional moody photo appearing in the alternative music press to put a face to the music… Now they seemed a lot more real.

I loved their reticence to look into the camera lens; an apprehension and disdain that was the polar opposite to most other bands fighting over themselves for mid-’80s screen attention, and which reached its nadir with the can we go now look on all their faces at the clip’s end.

I loved Bernard’s singing; often flying too close to the sun of vocal discord – and all the better for it. I loved the cowbell. I can picture the four of them at Britannia Row during their marathon Perfect Kiss session: “we need something else… more cowbell!”. Can you picture Joy Division ever using a cowbell? Excellent!

I loved Gillian’s demure coolness and grace. Watching her turn dials on the sequencer – like some sort of glamorous NASA mission controller – to herald those distinctive Perfect Kiss synth lines, evolved my developing brain on multiple levels.

I loved Hooky – all hair and leather jacket, with spare guitar pick in mouth – switching between his rollicking bass performance and his bashing away at the electronic pads.

I loved Stephen’s technical concentration and hint of amusement. I loved the frogs and car crashes. I loved the synths being performed live and with feeling, rather than as an over-produced and over-quantized backing tape. New Order always seem to give a human touch to the art of electronic music.

They’re just so cool…

Apparently not about AIDS, but instead centred on a gun-toting American that the band met one night before going out, Perfect Kiss – in its epic 9 minute 12″ version – is a tour-de-force of synths, metallic sequences, electronic percussion, samples, rolling bass, huge walls of sound breaking down into periods of forest-like ambience, and sheer energy. Subsequently edited down for the album and 7″ single, as well as a handy dub version The Kiss Of Death and short reprise piece Perfect Pit, Perfect Kiss exists in various original forms but interestingly has never been picked up for remix attention (excluding the Hot Tracks and Razormaid DJ mash-ups of the period). Surely an oversight to be addressed by an enthusiastic modern practitioner…

The Perfect Kiss: an essential and definitive highlight of New Order’s mid-’80s output.

Rating: xxxxx

Available on: Low Life
Edited 12″ version available on: Substance
Original 12″ version most recently available on: Low Life (Collector’s Edition)

9 thoughts on “The Perfect Kiss

  1. I have to disagree here. I’m a massive NO fan, but this is one of my least favourite tracks of theirs. It’s way too long, and when I saw them recently at the Sydney Opera House, I could have done without it in favour of a more obscure track from their back catalogue. Thankfully they’ve shortened it for their live set these days. But I don’t understand why fans always fawns over this song. When compared to Thieves Like Us, to me it just doesn’t stand up as well. It’s a track that I always skip. I do kinda like the live video though. Gillian’s makeup is flawless! 6/10


    1. Hey Mark – many thanks for sharing your difference of opinion. Whilst certainly not their finest hour, I find the Perfect Kiss 12″ (but certainly not the PK edits) to be a highlight from 1985. I’d also love to hear it revamped properly, a-la 5-8-6.


  2. Another excellent review! I have to agree here :). I think Perfect Kiss is a great tune. For me it captures all the individual elements of the band members and fuses them together to make a great song. Really enjoy the sequenced bass line, synths and Hooky’s bass at the end. The video is also great. I cant believe its been overlooked for a remix too. Just a shame the Low-Life version is an edit. The outro is one of the best bits of the song! 9/10


  3. Great review. It’s an industrial symphony! I always bypass the completely neutered album version, though. The 12″ has all the essential NO ingredients, and Bernard’s fragile voice is at it’s most honest.


  4. Hooky also deserves some love for his drum-pad smashing and galloping bass work towards the end: one of his finest hours imo.

    The edit on Low-Life is awful. It should never have been there. Listening to it is like being forced to answer the doorbell while having sex.


  5. oh my goodness, I’ve just learned that Jonathan Demme (RIP) directed the wonderful 11minute video for this song. I just went back to revisit the video, in memory of Demme. What a great RockNRoll ride this video is, in spite of the excellent use of electronics. Perfection.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. It’s not only a shame that the Low Life version was edited, it’s a shame that the Substance CD version was edited too (but not the vinyl or cassette). It’s not their best song but the treatment is what makes it special; the way the track builds and builds as it progresses. This doesn’t fully come across when they play it live, so I can understand why some people don’t appreciate it in that context.
    I’m not sure any remixer could improve on the original vibe of the song, which is perhaps why no one has tried. There was however a track that sampled TPK heavily in 2003, in fact it wouldn’t exist without TPK: “Future and Back” by Tom De Neef Pres. Gattaca. It’s not an improvement on the original though.


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