9 New Order Songs That Deserve More Love

From the ashes of Joy Division rose another band: New Order. They were lighter than Joy Division – unsurprising, considering the death of singer Ian Curtis – yet made as much of an impact.

Much has been written about the relationship between co-frontmen Bernard Sumner and Peter Hook, but the tension actively aided the music at its best. Where Sumner favored pop, Hook preferred rock, and the battle between these two disparate elements made for fiery listening. You won’t find “Blue Monday” on this list, because it’s too obvious – something New Order never was.

“Dreams Never End”

Bassist Peter Hook, who had performed lead vocals with Joy Division, seemed to be the obvious choice to replace Ian Curtis. As it happened, keyboardist Bernard Sumner was ultimately awarded that honor, but “Dreams Never End” offers a tantalizing look at what could have been. Hook’s voice is closer to Curtis’ than Sumner’s, which might explain why the other members – eager to distance themselves from Joy Division – elected the keyboardist, but Hook sings with genuine commitment on a song that ripples with energy.

“Age of Consent”

Drummer Stephen Morris puts almost all of his body into the thunderous groove that opens the song and does so quite nicely. Gillian Gilbert plays the keyboard solo, but Hook does much of the heavy lifting with the gnarly bass riff. And then there’s Sumner, all angelic falsettos, performing the vocal with the glee of a schoolboy skipping class.

“The Perfect Kiss”

To my ears, this is the perfect New Order song. It has all the elements distilled into one tidy package, from the frenzied hooks to the synths laying down the cement for the vocals. You sense that the band are genuinely enjoying themselves in the studio (which they weren’t by Republic). Better still, the song contains a level of ambiguity that perplexed the band themselves.  “I haven’t a clue what this is about,” Sumner admitted to GQ magazine, although he did agree that the  “Pretending not to see his gun / I said, ‘Let’s go out and have some fun'” couplet are his most famous words.


It took them three albums, but New Order was finally ready to commemorate Ian Curtis. Fittingly, there are no words heard on the track, just melancholic keyboards and dreamlike guitar chords. The song has become something of a mainstay in cinema and television and was recently used in an episode of The Crown to explore Princess Margaret’s failing health. Morris has spoken candidly about the hurt he felt following Curtis’ death. “When I was growing up, you never talked about your feelings,” he revealed. “You just put on this front and built a prison for yourself. And once things start going wrong for young men, it just gets worse because they refuse to talk to anyone. There are people to talk to, you just refuse. And you end up in a situation where the only solution you can see is to take your own life. It’s just such a waste.”

“Round & Round”

The band decamped to Ibiza to record their fifth album, Technique, and were clearly blown away by the local club music. As a result, Morris and Gilbert experimented with sequencers, while Hook focused on giving the album a rockier sound. Sumner demonstrates the full extension of his vocal abilities, ably going from a hushed whisper to an anthemic yelp during the closing few minutes. Brilliant.


By all accounts, Republic was a difficult album to make, particularly for Hook who was enjoying writing with Killing Joke members Jaz Coleman and Geordie Walker for a side project. “There couldn’t have been a stranger contrast,” Hook admitted to Eighth Day Magazine. “It was all difficult…; we didn’t have fun. Well, me, Gillian, and Steve had some fun at the beginning of the album. There were also financial problems…I wasn’t getting on very well with Bernard. But I’m big enough and broad-shouldered enough to shoulder the blame. Usual band bollocks!”  Whatever — “Regret” sounds great. It’s New Order as an out-and-out rock outfit, featuring some of Morris’s most spirited cymbal work and Sumner’s choppiest vocals.


“Ruined In A Day”

From the orchestral drums that open the track to the chiming, Smiths-like guitars that center the song, “Ruined In A Day” demonstrates the unhappiness between the bandmates. Unsurprisingly, New Order took a hiatus and wouldn’t return to the studio until 2001. In this dizzying piece, Sumner speaks about his efforts measured against deception, changing geography, and despair. Colored by a splashy piano line, the track holds many of the trappings of 1990s pop, including a sample of a choir blaring in the background.

“Waiting For The Siren’s Call”

By 2005, New Order’s music had taken a more guitar-heavy direction, which made sense considering Gilbert’s sabbatical from the outfit. Guitarist Phil Cunningham added some much-needed muscle, although Hook’s bass dominates during the instrumental passages. This song features one of Sumner’s loneliest lyrics as if emulating the rift that was growing between him and Hook. Tellingly, Hook has played no part in the rebooted New Order, although he does perform their catalog with The Light.


In 2015, New Order consisted of Sumner, Morris, Gilbert, and Cunningham –not forgetting Tom Chapman who was filling in on bass. He isn’t as flashy as Hook, but Chapman’s a strong addition to the band, bringing a melodicism to the forefront that’s occasionally missing from New Order’s latter work. “Restless” is one of the band’s more successful power ballads, although the guitar patterns suggest that a return to more dance-oriented territories might be on the cards in the future.

-Eoghan Lyng

Photo: New Order in 1985; clockwise from top left: Bernard Sumner, Stephen Morris, Peter Hook, Gillian Gilbert (public domain)

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1 comment on “9 New Order Songs That Deserve More Love

  1. Seamas Reilly

    Begarrah, me lad, where’s True Faith?

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