Vicious Streak

Turn My Way < Vicious Streak > Primitive Notion

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.

Rating: xxxxo

Available on: Get Ready

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8 thoughts on “Vicious Streak

  1. Well said. All of your thoughts rather lead exactly to MY thought about this song, which is that It sounds like a great track from the first Electronic album. In fact, whenever I listen to this song, I suddenly am in the mood to put on the Electronic album. yet again. god I loved that album!

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      1. There’s no album where I skip the first song faster than Electronic. (And the last one, too!)

        But wow, so much good stuff in the middle. Vicious Streak does remind me of Electronic, too. Which makes me remember something else — I recall a discussion somewhere when Republic came out — maybe rec.arts.music or something equally ancient — where somebody said, “Wait, there’s something wrong with my CD of Republic. Somehow, instead of it being a New Order CD, it’s an Electronic CD. Should I contact London Records to fix this?” 😉

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  2. One of New Order’s finest …. Vicious Streak is layer placed upon layer upon layer of pure musical genius, the section from 2:40 – 4:00 is New Order at their best, no lyrics, a stunning guitar riff/reverb followed by (I have to agree) a quietness, interrupted by a heartbeat of a drum and simple piano, add to this slightly quirky lyrics and we have a gem.

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  3. ” his theme of someone so young … a bit pervy for a then-45 year old”
    Nothing new for Bernard: “You’re much too youuung, to mess around with me.” Ahh but if only Vicious Streak had some of the excitement of Fine Time. Vicious Streak isn’t an exciting Rock track or an exciting Dance/electronic track. Nor does it tingle my spine like the quieter Elegia or Avalanche. It’s just sort of… there. Pleasant, and reasonably melodic, but kinda forgettable. One of the many parts that contribute to the sum of Get Ready – an album that leaves me going: “Meh”.

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  4. Hmmm. It’s pleasant enough but hardly sets the pulse racing. I find the central synth motif very repetitive, although isolated sections are very beautiful. NO can do simplicity and space, but this is no Your Silent Face.

    There was a review of GR at the time in I think the Glasgow Herald that was very harsh, giving the album about 4/10 and saying it was basically a bunch of demos that showed they weren’t really a**ed any more. I remember it as it was the first time I recall the band having REALLY bad press and thinking it was really over the top. Not that I really care about reviews these days.

    But I kind of get the point, that some of these songs sound like they are a bit unfinished and/or missing something, and this is one that comes to mind (as well as Slow Jam, where the band should have sent Bernard away with another bottle of red wine to come up with better lyrics). Yes, it’s ok, and I’d give it a six or seven out of 10. Like most of the album in fact.

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