Thursday, March 21, 2013

Classic Album Review: New Order - Movement (1981)

Movement may well have been New Order’s debut album, the first in a series of acclaimed releases that more or less defined the Eighties for many, but it was also very much a transitional album for a band still grieving the loss of its lead singer. For all that it was “officially” a debut, it was also a follow-up to all that went before … and given the circumstances, it really couldn’t have been any other way.

It also stands as something of an oddity in the New Order catalogue in that it most definitely isn’t a dance album. No matter how closely you listen, you’ll be hard pressed to identify any sign whatsoever that this band would eventually provide a significant bridge between low key angst-ridden Indie rock and the rather more glossy Acid House/Techno evolution starting to take shape across the Atlantic in the nightclubs of Chicago and Detroit.

And again … given the circumstances, it really couldn’t be any other way. Bright lights, dancing, joy, and feelings of euphoria definitely weren’t on this band’s agenda back in 1981 when Movement was released, and certainly not part of its makeup when the album was conceived in late 1980/early 1981, during the weeks and months after the death of Ian Curtis and the demise of Joy Division.

Movement’s bleak themes and grey soundscapes, its angular guitars and icy synths, are not vastly removed from where Joy Division left off, and the shadow of Curtis looms large as the defining backdrop to the album. New Order’s struggle to find its own signature sound – something that would start to fall into place on Movement’s follow-up, Power Corruption And Lies – means it isn’t too difficult to view this album as the third studio album Joy Division never made. Hell, even the vocals of Sumner and Hook tend to ape those of Curtis at times.

As such, Movement pretty much represents a snapshot of a band in transition, a mandatory step on the road to longevity, and a fairly emphatic last gasp purging of the past. It seems improbable that New Order would have morphed into the hugely influential band they eventually became without this initial small step away from what they once were. In order to embrace a bright new future, indeed, any sort of future together, it was necessary to get the grieving process over and done with first.

Movement received a belated “Deluxe” makeover of sorts in 2008 – with a bonus disc of essential material from the same period (including two versions of the fabulous 'Temptation', two of 'Ceremony', plus 'In A Lonely Place', 'Everything’s Gone Green', and 'Procession') accompanying the original album.

Best tracks on Movement: 'Dreams Never End', 'The Him' (my fave), 'Doubts Even Here', and 'Denial'.

This review originally appeared on

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