Don’t get me wrong.
The Chemical Brothers are remarkable and hugely important; contributing more than a few tracks into my pool of must-haves. Their collaborations and productions more often than not are equally awesome, and with respect to New Order you’d have to agree that Here To Stay and Singularity are right up there in the band’s canon of greats, for which I’m in awe of Tom Rowlands. Having said that I can’t quite connect with Unlearn This Hatred to the same degree, and in fact I find it mediocre* for a range of reasons.
Because… “Heartache” (repeat)
Because… “I’m your automatic lover…” – what? And I thought Bernard was your Jetstream lover anyway!
Because… That quirky intro loop with the brash sounding synth quickly becomes irritating.
Because… The snare sound used throughout is really dry and abrupt.
Because… There is very little bottom end in the mix until the brief instrumental break at ~3:00. I’ve whined before about the tendency towards mid-range in the Chems-productions; yes it gives the track a certain frantic-quality – perfect for when you need a ‘hands in the air like you just don’t care’ build-up – but if you compare it with New Order’s own ear for sonic balance and production (a-la Plastic etc) then they remain the masters and all others the apprentices.
There’s still a few gems in the pan, such as the overall sentiment of unlearning hatred, the harmony effect used over the “make a sign” chorus vocal lines, the melodic reverbed bell riff in the intro, the aforementioned instrumental break, and the way the track ends.
So it was these elements that I looked for in the companion Extended Mix; hoping that they would be emphasised to offer a more satisfying experience, but I found this version – of all those on Complete Music – the least re-interpreted from its original, which was disappointing. I’m only left with a few notable differences, including the stretched intro at ~0:30, no bass drum in the first verse, the (quite effective) drop-down to a frantic snare roll at the “healing” end of the first chorus, the instrumental-only chorus section at ~3:53, and the guitar-minimalised “heartache” reprise at the end. I’m particularly disappointed they chose not to make more use of the bass sequence variation around ~3:10; something that should have been really stretched out in an extended re-build, or even used throughout as an alternative new backbone to the song. I think an Extended Mix 2 could have been considered. Can someone please get hold of the multi’s and have a crack at it 🙂
The album wavers a bit here, but given how remarkable Music Complete is overall I’m sanguine about it. Unlearn This Hatred still gets a pass mark.
* …as a full album track. In my opinion Music Complete would have been tighter by leaving Unlearn This Hatred off, with the song better utilised as a B-side to the Singularity single release.