I’ve been procrastinating.
Because of their music, because of the way they present their art, because of their associations, and because of their coolness quotient, New Order looms very large on the soundtrack to my life. But just like when the weather turns south, or my favourite football team has a losing streak, I feel genuinely perturbed when New Order offers up less than stellar material – which is of course ridiculous and selfish; we all have our off days. In my case when I’m disgruntled I tend to remain stumm rather than vent my spleen, so it’s quite a challenge to open up on this blog when a lemon like Chemical comes along. The very words I type somehow feel tainted and I’d prefer – unlike those who choose to publish tell-all autobiographies that are truly ruinous – not to articulate the negatives.
But… in the interests of balance, honesty and constructive criticism, let’s not prevaricate any longer. Truth will out!
Chemical is a bit of a pig…
It carries the remnant DNA of a decent song (I quite like the chorus), but it has been bludgeoned in the studio until all its character, heart and soul has been neutralized. To wit:
- The god-awful mainline drum loop. What is it with the relentless chugga-swish programming on the album – typified by Spooky & Chemical* ?
- The medically-diagnosed irritable bowel syndrome that is the bassline.
- The faux-Depeche industrialism, and the overall noise.
And what a cheap fade-out! It wasn’t long ago that I was extolling the band’s brilliance at ending songs with flair, but this is most definitely not one of them.
The payroll company probably didn’t care – it filled the CD space, but Chemical should never have gone beyond existence as a passable B-side. It is one of the three or four reasons why Republic feels below par.
* IMHO the drum programming across Republic is one of its main failings, and for me the balance of responsibility seems to fall squarely in Hague’s lap rather than Stephen Morris’. Listen to The Other Two’s (or indeed Electronic’s or Revenge’s) recordings of the same period and they are distinctly non-Republic in their percussive backbone. I’m open to debate on this.
Available on: Republic