Singularity < Plastic > Tutti Frutti

It’s official. You’re fantastic.

Copped some flak there for only rating Singularity a micron under 5 stars, but for me Plastic reigns superior. Allow me to explain myself (as if I need to… it’s my blog… so there).

New Order produced it. By themselves. No Chemical Brothers. No Stuart Price. No Stephen Street. No John Leckie. No Jim Spencer. No Steve Osborne. No Flood. No Steven Hague. No Arthur Baker. None of ’em. Collaborations are nice, but – save for only a small number of exceptions – each and every 5-star track I’ve reviewed has been self-produced by the band, and rightly so because quite frankly they are the pioneers. Plastic is not a track needing a helpful hand by some upstart to give it kudos with the masses and cachet with the critics; it is first-class wondrously-realised dance music delivered straight to you by Sumner, Morris, Gilbert, Cunningham and Chapman; no assistance necessary.

You’re so special; so iconic.

It was very specifically Plastic which made me realise that New Order was back, but not back in the sense of a recurring fever, but back in the sense of a restoration of primacy. It is such a fantastic electronic dance track, drenched as it is in the DNA of Blue Monday, Bizarre Love Triangle, Round & Round, and Vanishing Point. Laser-sharp, super-clear, bass-heavy, perfectly-padded, and synth-rich, with an instrumental breakdown and re-build that has the sequences detuning and tumbling over each other in a way that just blows my mind, and reminds me that nobody comes even remotely close to New Order when they are firing on all cylinders. This is easily in my top-10 tracks of all time from my favourite band.

You’re the focus of attention.

I just love the wry take on celebrity worship that Bernard shares on Plastic, and how it all gets unexpectedly turned around in the outro; with some harsh truths about artificial/superficial-ity. He really is on a lecture tour across the recent albums isn’t he! Sumner nails his vocal performance but it’s made sublime with Dawn Zee (et al) on backing vocals, providing those perfect emphases on “special”, “iconic”, “focus“, “you don’t want it” and “attention“. She and Denise Johnson are superb backing vocalists for Bernard.

Feels like thunder.

Should have been a single? Yes and no. Certainly it seems such an obvious choice for being singled out, remixed, edited etc, but when I think about it there’s a certain purity in Plastic remaining an album-only track; supported only by an equally terrific Extended Version (one of the best on Complete Music). Like Vanishing Point on Technique it’s perfect just the way it is and can’t be bettered, so why try harder. Furthermore it illustrates just how strong Music Complete is: that Mute was spoilt for choice and a track like Plastic wasn’t required as a single. Amazing really, and very Factory-like in its perversity.

The Extended Mix is a joy. Restructured and stretched in all the right places, and emphasising those Moroder-esque sequences to remind us where the band’s earliest disco influences lay whilst stamping their own signature darker-EBM and alternative flavours all over it. I love how the original’s outro vocals are brought forward midway into the track to signpost – after much vocoded intoxication – a revised extended instrumental closing. Just when the original version cuts into its panning ambience, the extended version decides to go around the block a few more times.

What a brilliant album this is. What a brilliant band they are.

Rating: xxxxx

Available on: Music Complete
Extended Mix available on: Complete Music

8 thoughts on “Plastic

  1. One of your briefer reviews Dennis, however Plastic speaks for itself, a sonic boom attack on your ears from start to finish, the ‘Hooky’ like bass at 2:51 an sustained in the background, the ‘feels like thunder’ and the crash of thunder in the background at 3:31, utter genius.

    The best is yet to come,the instrumental break starting at 4:19 is breathtaking culminating in an almost dead stop followed by Barney’s take on celebrity backed by a wonderful synth background.

    Everything in this track, from the synths to the excellent drum patterns, subtle bass and excellent backing vocals is perfect and if you are not dancing, toe or finger-tapping to this you need to check your pulse to see if you are still alive.

    Top 10 … no top 3 for me, easily surpasses anything the have done since Technique and in a Spinal Tap moment I award Plastic 6 out of 5.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. This is exactly the song i desperately wanted from New Order since Technique. A top quality four-to-the-floor pure dance tune….and they sure delivered. Its funny how the ‘Hooky’ riff part is so understated and relatively low in the mix….deliberate i presume. The extended version is great and absolutely love the section as you described in the review where the outro in the normal version is used in the middle of this version. That robotic ‘Intoxication’ part is wonderful. (reminds me a bit of ‘Make It Happen’ Electronic where Barney sings ‘broken man’). Anyhow i digress….a great tune. The only thing missing for me are remixes. Surely this is the most remix friendly track on the album.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. yep, would have loved remixes, but they could not have improved on it. Just for kicks, ya know? anyway, agreed on everything, including 6 out of 5. The first time I heard it I screamed inside my head: THANK GOD….FINALLY…. It just allows us hope that New Order will go on forever and ever…

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I think it’s a good song but not great. Better than Guilt Is A Useless Emotion but it’s miles off from being a BLT or Round and Round (IMO). It just feels a bit cold, generic and lacking that something. The choppy rhythm guitar and bass riff are far too short and low in mix and I find the whole fantasti”c”, ironi”c” (with a weird enthasis on the “C” at the end of the word very distracting).

    I find it the loops and sequencers a bit repetitive too. Singularity is 10 times this song to my mind. So too is Academic.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Definite 5/5 for me, although if it’s 6/5 I’d have to give Singularity 10. I was underwhelmed by the live concert version on youtube, but the recorded version blew me away.

    Love the extended version, but as for most of the MC tracks I think the album version is peerless. The only complaint I’d have about this track is that the hooky-like bass is very understated (as someone says, probably deliberately). I’d really like it up front like an updated Blue Monday.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Quite new here, started reading these reviews just before the Restless review was released.

    Just wanted to say that the synth at 0:45 – 1:01 is probably my most favorite sound off the album. There is something about it which sounds so old school but at the same time fits so well into the modern sounding song. The synth, I don’t know why it grabs my attention so much, but sometimes whilst skipping through Spotify on the daily, I will stop as Plastic and listen to that synth section then skip onto the next New Order track. I bloody love it.

    For the rest of the song, a banger, but that synth, oh my god.

    Liked by 1 person

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