Times Change

Chemical < Times Change > Special

Hands up if you like Bernard rapping?




Thought not.

Like Chemical, Liar, and Ruined In A Day, Times Change suffers from an identity crisis. It occurs to me now that these tracks – the weakest on Republic – are all an attempt to nudge somebody’s ill-defined genre envelope; respectively Industrial, MOR, Dancehall, and Rap – none of which succeed. In going through this review process I think I can finally articulate what the fundamental issue is with the album, and that is: On Republic, New Order were – either by choice or by production or label influence – persuaded for the first time to copy rather than invent. Unfortunately this problem underpins the weaker tracks on Get Ready and Waiting For The Siren’s Call as well. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: New Order are at their best when they self-produce. Guest musicians and vocalists? Fine. Guest producers that try to constrain the quicksilver? Bad. You’re just opening the door to mediocrity and expediency.

My problem with Times Change is that it sounds like a product of some Frankensteinian experiment, in that it has Bernard rapping* to a completely derivative slip-beat drum loop, interspersed with a perfectly melodic alt/dance New Order chorus, and then – as if giving him something to do – the track drops to Hooky noodling pointless sweet-nothings that bear no relation to the surrounding song. Times Change is like a 3rd rate Electronic demo, spliced with part of a great but unfinished New Order song, and cut with a studio mishap where the engineer accidentally records the bass guitarist tuning up in the stairwell.

…and I can’t eliminate the mental image – from his opening rap lyric – of Bernard lying Christ-like in a hay-filled manger, suffering yellow fever. That must have been some weird trip – perhaps a throwback to the kid in the Fine Time video, dreaming of dirigible pills for Christmas?

Times Change: give me the chorus, the second instrumental lead-in with the interesting cuts, plus the melodic intro & outro Oboe instrumentals. Delete the rest and rebuild, or in actuality just ignore it completely and move quickly on to Special and Avalanche; the saving graces of the album.


* Something which he is wholly unsuited to. Whoever counseled Sumner that he should try rapping should be slapped. I love Bernard’s singing precisely because it is unique and special and emotional and imperfect. If you’re needing rap in your track, get a rapper; 808 State did it nicely with MC Tunes, and there were (are) plenty of talented hip-hop artists in the Manchester scene who would have made for a really interesting collaboration.

Rating: xxioo

Available on: Republic


12 thoughts on “Times Change

  1. A manger? Christ? Yellow fever / Yellow hay? Do me a favour – skip.

    I share your assessment & love of Bernard’s imperfect vocals – but rap? Nope. Nah. No.
    The only thing I used to like about this track was the unexpected clip of Hookybass, so rarely found on Republic in general.

    However, having heard the instrumental of this song at full pelt played by the 12k Orchestra at MIF17, I was blown away. (I very nearly forgot the lyrics!) It was totally unexpected in every way and really set up the rest of the gig. There’s a 1 minute snippet of it on youtube for anyone who’s interested.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Wait, you gave this the same number of stars as Chemcial? No Way! The chorus is great, the intro and outro are good, the Hooky bit I actually like even though, I agree, it bears little relation to the rest of the track. And those slightly menacing cut-up church organ blasts (that is what they are, isn’t it?) – quite original. As for the rapping, I always think of PSB’s West End Girls. I think Bernard sounds quite similar to Neil Tennant in the rapping stakes. Hague worked with PSB (he actually produced the hit version of West End Girls), and of course Sumner and Tennant had worked with each other by then. It’s an intriguing if imperfect track. I laugh at the rapping and enjoy the rest. And I never skip it.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I actually really enjoy this song. It’s got a catchy chorus, great synth stabs, a brilliant intro and outro and the rapping doesn’t bother me. The oboe is seductive and adds an extra layer.

    It just could be a little edgier and harder hitting (like massive attack).

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I also am perplexed how this gets the same rating as the horrid durge that is Chemical, and also score lower than the lame Liar.

    Maybe scores out of ten would have separated the wheat from the chaff better.

    And as for Hooky being dropped in on a record, look no further than AIWWIW, Way of Life, or 1963.

    Rant over. Loving the reviews really. It’s just opinions innit?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I suppose I should explain myself.

      Is Chemical ‘worse’ IMHO than the Xmas Flexi tracks? No. Worse than MTO? No.

      Do I prefer Liar over Chemical and Times Change? Ever so slightly. And again in my estimation there is *just* enough (mainly the choruses) in these latter two tracks to warrant 2.5, and I hold the poor programming of Chemical on par with the poor structure of Times Change.

      In hindsight, ratings out 10 would have given me a little more room to nudge the scores – but it’s all subjective, and I *really* enjoy the differences of opinion.


  5. Idiot Country is the only Sumner-Rap (TM) I liked.
    In fact, I loved that track!

    Times Change is marginally better than Liar and Chemical for me. Still, nothing to write home about.

    Onwards and upwards for the next few tracks though (Special is rather is rather wonderful).

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Must admit I love this track too. The lyrics are a bit daft at times, and the MC Barney rapping I can take or leave (but are no worse than Idiot Country or Feel Every Beat, and I actually prefer this one to them, as well as to the previous two tracks). Yes, it sounds more like an Electronic song, but the chorus is great and mournful, and, although it’s probably a bit of a hackneyed observation, this track for me does mark a real sense of loss and act as a full-stop to the Factory era (in this way it segues quite nicely into the downbeat final two tracks).
    I’m late to the party but loving what you’re doing here Dennis. Really look forward to your reviews, which have helped me re-listen and re-evaluate several tracks (is All day long really a 5-star song? You bet it is!) I’ve more-or-less shared your points of view till this track (with the sole exception of AIIWIW – love that track!). We’re moving from a period of general consensus over the relative greatness or near-greatness of most songs to a much more Marmite period, and it will be really intriguing to see the divergence of views. I won’t be arguing for 5 stars for J***stream by the way….


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