Release Date: Jan 14, 2013
Record label: Rhino
"I'll stay with you/Till hell freezes over," Bernard Sumner intones on the ninth New Order album. Chances are he's not referring to his bandmates: Allegedly the final release from the massively influential dance-rock group's original lineup (bassist Peter Hook departed in 2007), Lost was cobbled of outtakes from its previous album, 2005's lackluster Waiting for the Siren's Call. Surprisingly, it's a much better record.
If Lost Sirens turns out to be the last of New Order, or even of New Order with Peter Hook as a member, it would be a fitting farewell. “You’ve caught me at a bad time / So why don’t you piss off”, goes one of Bernard Sumner’s more (in)famous lyrics. And sure enough, the band has always taken something of a solipsistic approach to their career, to the point where their disinterest and lack of image became an image itself.
The release of Lost Sirens should come as little surprise really – a scant collection of offcuts cobbled together by the label to tug a few pounds from a devoted fanbase starved of genuine new material. Isn’t this how it’s worked for years? But still, it’s testament to the messy are they/aren’t they playthrough of verbal blows between bassist Peter Hook and the rest of the band that for a while, it looked like the record might never see the light of day. Yet months on from its originally scheduled release date, and eight years since 2005’s Waiting For The Sirens’ Call – from which these leftovers are culled – Lost Sirens is finally ‘out there’; something we should all probably be thankful for.
Trumpeted in some circles as a New Order rarities collection, Lost Sirens doesn't really fit the bill as such, but it does offer a wealth of bonus tracks from circa 2005 -- call it the second disc of the deluxe edition that was never released for Waiting for the Sirens' Call. Their eighth album, it eventually appeared to be the band's swan song, given Peter Hook's eventual estrangement from the rest of the original lineup. Compared to that album's half-hearted songwriting and rote sound, Lost Sirens positively shines -- leading to the customary questions of why this material didn't replace several, if not many, songs on the original Sirens' Call.
This isn't a new New Order album, exactly. During the long, expensive sessions that produced 2005's Waiting for the Sirens' Call, New Order recorded a small pile of extra material, the idea being that they'd get a few more songs down after the subsequent tour and call it another album. But they stopped playing together after 2006, then bassist Peter Hook left the band acrimoniously, and the two camps spent a few years bickering at one another.
As the sad spat between New Order’s founder members drags itself ever further down, you’d hope this companion to 2005’s ‘Waiting For The Sirens’ Call’ (originally planned as a double album) might give them pause to remember what they can do together. It’s safe to say ‘…Sirens’ Call’ itself, while it has its moments, is no-one’s favourite New Order album, and while these songs aren’t really outtakes, the moments here are fewer. ‘It’ll Stay With You’ is a strong start, classically chiming alt.rock in a ‘Crystal’ vein, with a vital spark that’s lacking elsewhere.
New Order’s recent outings have been spotty as of late. Still, expectation and speculation are rife for the band’s latest offering, Lost Sirens, a mini album made up of eight tracks condemned to seven years on ice. While the latest offering doesn’t find the UK outfit at the top of their game, it does play host to some infectious songs, overshadowing its parent album, 2005’s Waiting for the Sirens’ Call.
It has been an eight year saga that has included a break up, some legal drama, some short-sighted side projects (Bad Lieutenant, Freebass, The Light), and a semi-reformation. New Order fans have endured a rollercoaster of news since the release of Waiting for the Sirens’ Call in 2005. Most recently, with the notorious reunion of everyone except Peter Hook, New Order has been touring and spreading rumors about a new album.
The portents were not good. A mini album featuring eight outtakes from New Order's rather lackadaisical 2005 album, Waiting for the Siren's Call hardly made me bubble with feverish anticipation. While 'Siren's had its moments, it disappointingly proved to be the sound of a famously splintering dynamic and, frankly, a place where the magic had finally started to run dry.