Lovely tune this.
I found myself listening to Vicious Streak on a recent flight home from Melbourne to Brisbane, just as the deep blues, purples, and oranges of dusk diffused the darkening sky. I pressed play as we taxied to the end of the runway, and the song’s subtle intro synths bled into Hooky’s isolated bass riff. The plane accelerated to take-off just as the song’s strings opened up into the uplifting guitar notes and Bernard’s verse. That my wife kept “hanging on” (to me that is… she’s a nervous flyer) seemed apropos to the lyrics. As a soundtrack to an evening flight, you can do a lot worse than Vicious Streak.
The song has great space – an overall quietness in the clipped and minimal percussion, the gorgeous strings, the reverbed piano and synth riffs, and the simple-but-expressive bass – which makes Vicious Streak such a fine listen. There is a wistful restraint applied here, which for me marks it as one of the real underrated highlights on Get Ready; and quality restraint is always harder to pull off in a studio than a wall of sound, so full marks to Steve Osborne.
I sometimes wonder when, who or what Bernard is writing about, because in Vicious Streak his theme of someone so young (with a vicious streak) being the (only) object of desire and the subject of (his?) crude thoughts is… how shall I say it… a bit pervy for a then-45 year old; unless he’s putting himself in another’s (younger) shoes. And have you noticed over the years Bernard’s recurring use of the rising / morning sun image? Perhaps Bernard prefers the dawn hours…
This is one of those New Order songs – my favourite type really – which emphasise melody through the keyboards and Hooky’s bass, and where subtlety reigns and there’s real care evident in the textures and production applied. There’s rocking-out to be had elsewhere on the album to be sure, but for me it’s tracks like Vicious Streak which stay true to New Order’s trusted electronic/rock crossover classiness.
Available on: Get Ready