Liar < Chemical > Times Change

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.

Rating: xxioo

Available on: Republic


8 thoughts on “Chemical

  1. “The medically-diagnosed irritable bowel syndrome that is the bassline.” Ha! I love this.

    Agree 100%…not a good song. Funny thing is, even though I’ve hardly heard this song, especially in the last ten years or so, I remember it so well. Why? I have no idea. I guess, despite its crappiness, it is still somewhat catchy. Damn you, New Order!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. A good review. It can’t have been easy.

    This is, hands down, my least favourite New Order track.
    It probably isn’t as ‘bad’ as ‘Rocking Carol’ / ‘Ode To Joy’, but those tracks were the band trying something a little daft and were not meant to be taken seriously.

    Chemical, however, is a proper album track and really should’ve been a lot better.

    Barring the odd obscure track (the two mentioned above, Vicious Circle, Sputnik etc.), it’s probably my least listened to track; the skip button is often used when the track appears on my iPhone.

    You’re right – it is a bit of a pig. That may be putting it mildly.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I may be the only one but I really like Chemical, yes it is no BLT or YSF or Temptation and as others have mentioned it is catchy and to have ‘juvenile delinquent’ as a lyric is genius. New Order’s worst songs are still better than many band’s best … I digress, I even like parts of ‘Rock The Shack’ but I draw the line at ‘Jetstream’.

    I do agree about the ending however and as to Hague’s input maybe he put everything into True Faith and 1963 and had nothing left in the tank, Morris is in my opinion the best drummer/drummer programmer of the last 40 years

    Liked by 2 people

  4. The drum programming I suspect, was influenced by the Rave and Indie-dance stuff that was going on at the time. Perhaps Hague (or whoever) thought it would be a good way of keeping the band relevant, or adding some energy.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. the drum programming COULD HAVE been good if they had mixed it louder and clearer, instead of making mud. it shounds like it should be LOUD, like BLT or True Faith. ugh, what a dissappointing song.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Really surprised by this review considering the context of the album as a whole. In fact, I remember thinking the first time I heard this track back in 1993 (and still think it this day) that Chemical sounds like the last remnants of Joy Division piercing through the increasingly sugar coated pop direction New Order had taken dating back to BLT (a track which, coincidentally, I find to be a weak link in the band’s back catalogue). Atrocity Exhibition, for example, has a similar muddied delivery and many of the same guitar/bass duels – even sounding similar at times. Anyway, this is a long way of saying I think this song is one of the few stand outs on the album that would for me include: Regret, World, Young Offender, Chemical, Special and Avalanche. That’s a tight EP right there…

    Liked by 2 people

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