Superheated

The Game < Superheated > 4’33”

sohJune 5, 2016. Sydney. The last of New Order’s 4-night residency at the Sydney Opera House for the Vivid event. Last night’s set was with the Australian Chamber Orchestra but tonight is just the band. These will remain my favourite ever gigs, not only for the sublime tracks and performances (in the world’s-best location) but also because of the full access Andy R provided Anna & I on both nights. It was wonderful to chat to everyone; band, management and others who’d made the trip including Paul Morley. Serendipitously our seats for the final show were right beside Kevin Cummins – greatest rock photographer of all time IMHO – with whom we struck up a great conversation and who left me with an indelible memory from the final night: the band’s encore featured – as expected – Blue Monday and Love Will Tear Us Apart, but what to end on… What to mark the completion of 4-nights’ of triumphant New Order and Joy Division classics? What to have ringing in our ears as we depart the cavernous glory of Jørn Utzon’s iconic Opera House? What career-defining celebration can top those 2 preceding songs and take us from ecstasy to delirium?

To the opening strains of Superheated I look over and catch Cummins shaking his head and expressing none-too-softly “Fucking hell Bernard…” 🙂

Bit of an anti-climax I agree, but is it really that bad?

For me Bernard Sumner flies under the radar as a writer of love songs, and on a good day he can write a cracking one – usually involving regret, yearning, heartache and lament; all quality ingredients, and when combined with New Order’s classic alt-indie-electronic backings, we’ve all benefitted from having an atypical soundtrack to the emotional journeys of our lives. I know I have.

Having said that, I’m not convinced that Superheated‘s Bryan-Adams-meets-Robbie-Williams bake-off of Mills & Boon schmalz – to the ultra-cliched tones of harp and Christmas chime – is what we wish for. I choose to blame Brandon Flowers and Stuart Price for this travesty, although who are we to deny Flowers’ closure in working with the group that inspired his own band back in 2001; even though the shlager is dialled up to 11 as we weep over make-up, photographs, kisses, hanging birds, life thieves, anger, blame, desire and leaving. Pass the tissues and chocolate…

But… there’s still enough in this cheese fondue to suggest possibility. Sumner and Flowers actually complement each other vocally. Their performances are tastefully produced (much preferred to the swining on Rock The Shack et al), and the core instrumentation and programming are quite OK; particularly in the synth-bass and strings, which are very Pet Shop Boys-esque. These parts just needed another’s ears, however the basic stretching applied via the original Extended Mix didn’t cut it either.

I’m so glad they went back (well, Richard X anyway) and had another go, because of all the restructures on Complete Music, Superheated (Extended Mix Two) gets the Most Improved Award; particularly with its smooth extended intro and lovely breakdown/rebuild. The harps and chimes are rendered innocuous and we’re left with some smartly re-programmed synthpop that I feel no shame in tapping my fingers to and singing along with.

Kevin, you were probably right in your assessment on that blustery evening in Sydney, but in a funny way the echoing strains of “Now that it’s over” seemed just fine for a band closing out a remarkable gig in 2016, as distinct from 35 years earlier when the encore would be them filing off stage leaving the sequencers running. Different needs for different times, but both effective in their way. Still, I enjoyed your reaction and the discussion afterwards. Your work is much appreciated – we’ve all seen New Order through your eyes…

 

 

Music Complete is wonderful, but is it their best ever? Not quite, but it’s a remarkable album that renewed my faith in my favourite band when I thought all hope was gone. Of course it’s a new version of the band without Peter Hook but it is no less valid. New Order now is sublime. It is evolved. Matured. Fine-tuned. The return of Gillian, the incorporation of Tom, and the signing to Mute, have all given the band – dare I say it – greater class, and I don’t think there is a better time to see them live than right here in the late teens of the 21st century. Some of the gigs in recent years have been exquisite, and in my estimation the NOMC15 and ∑(No,12k,Lg,17Mif) live albums are their finest.

May Bernard, Stephen, Gillian, Phil and Tom continue on this remarkable journey, and Peter on his own adventures too. This blog has been my personal thank you to the six of you, straight from the heart. Ceremony to Superheated eh? Job almost done, but I’m far from finished. Keep watching for a couple of remaining outliers and my final analysis.

Rating (mainly for Extended Mix Two and because I like it slightly more than Unlearn This Hatred): xxxIo

Available on: Music Complete
Extended Mix 2 available on: Complete Music

10 thoughts on “Superheated

  1. I like this song alot. I dont know why… it’s so odd. but its fun to listen to, sorta like alot of ‘new wave’ brit pop from the early 80’s.

    I like Barneys tone of voice on some of the lines…. “but it’s not your fault, no not at all” for example… it hints at new ideas for future songs…future albums. This album was so fresh and new for this band…. the whole line up deserves the credit, but special kudos to Barney for finding new voices in his writing and performance. I am so very grateful.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. First off congratulations, you made it all the way through and I’ve really enjoyed ever single (and album track!) post. This is not my favourite track but there is a certain charm to it. There must be because my first reaction to those bells was to think they had deliberately planned a Christmas single… and then it began to remind me of East 17s Stay another day. But still I don’t mind it, having the ‘now that it’s over’ line just seems a great way to end the album.
    Bernard does something on this he does on electronic’s twisted tenderness where the the melody of the first lines ascends, it’s a great tune… But then he doesn’t do it again!
    One thing I think the song misses is a more melodic bass guitar, I think Tom’s great but would loved to have had something a bit Hook like on this. To think the opening new order Album track is dreams Never end (with Hook stamped all over it) to the final album track from telling us it’s over, Hook gone. Is there another album in them? Who knows but the journey so far has been amazing.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. New order in catchy pop song alert. Soaring chorus…check…angelic strings and bells…check…ambiguous lyrics about love…check…guest vocalist…check.

    I don’t think it’s a bad song at all and think your review and star rating are pretty accurate. Yes the extended 2 remix is far better and no I’m not sobbing that I’ve never seen it live. It doesn’t sound very New Order-y and is more like Electronic, indeed obviously even the Killers. Not bad for all that but I agree with previous reviews that a) it needs more up-front bass and b) it’s a slightly odd way to finish the album, closing lyrics aside.

    That’s particularly the case since in this version the Brandon vocals are more prominent, so the guest vocalist tends to dominate the last few minutes of the album. It kind of sounds like the single remix for a track which if they had released it as such might have got some radio play and expanded their audience beyond their core fans. But they never released it. So perhaps it is quite a New Order-y song after all!

    Music Complete is an amazing album, still rewarding 4 years on. It’s not perfect (your reviews do illustrate that the last few songs are a bit more uneven both stylistically and in quality than the excellent opening run). But it’s certainly up there with at least some of their 80s’ output.

    Can I join in the thanks for your wonderful blog. It’s helped me revisit many songs and you’ve got an amazing way of bringing out the multiple facets and the context to each release. I’m sure going to miss it! Just another reason why the band should RECORD MORE SONGS.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I also like this song a lot, same subject matter as ‘Nothing But A Fool’ yet it is so uplifting compared to the somber ‘Fool’, another catchy chorus, yes Extended Mix 2 is rather good but I prefer the album version just a little more.

    Dennis, From the review of ‘Ceremony’ (Feb 16th 2016 ….. Doesn’t time fly by) to ‘Superheated’ (and beyond) it has been an absolute pleasure reading your analysis and thoughts on these wonderful songs, and I’d like to thank you for your time and effort and I would also like to thank everybody who has commented on this blog, I shall miss it, burt I will always revisit and read whenever I play a New Order song.

    Here’s hoping the band release so new music soon

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Thank you Dennis.

    This has been a brilliantly executed trip right down Memory Lane, with great insights and an appreciation for Neworder that I share but could never have expressed so well.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. For me it’s a very catchy pop song with greet lyrics and vocals but I find the music a bit bland and Republican-esque. I normally skip the track after the second chorus. The ending goes on too long.

    I echo everyone else’s comments – sublime analysis of all the NO material Dennis and I’ve really enjoyed reading this blog. On the whole I’ve agreed with you’re commentary but I would suggest marks out of 10 might be better gauge than out of 5 next time 🤪

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Looks like New Order have celebrate this milestone with coincidentally adding Superheated back into the set list yesterday 😉

    I really liked this song when I first got into the band. Only listening to the Extended 2 remix, I thought it was brilliant. I then took a listen at the original and understood why a fair amount aren’t fond of it. But I sometimes have this song as the last in a hour long music listen, the final lyrics are right for it.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. This one is like something from a lost John Hughes soundtrack, and I love it. The way the voices melt together makes it their best executed collaboration, for me. In another time they’d probably have left this off the album, and released at as a single… but those contrarian days are long gone, and so it sits a bit awkward and out of place at the end of a great late New Order album.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Thank you, Dennis! Late to the party but just wanted to express my thanks for you taking on this incredible project.

    BTW, this is my favorite track on Music Complete. Not kidding, it really is.

    Liked by 1 person

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