After the untimely suicide of frontman Ian Curtis, the rest of Joy Division (guitarist Bernard Sumner, bassist Peter Hook and drummer Stephen Morris) were left with a dilemma not so common in pop. Should they stop playing entirely, play as Joy Division, or continue as something else? They opted for the latter, achieving the critical and commercial success as New Order that everyone had pegged for Joy Division.
The band’s first album, Movement (re-released in November as a double-disc deluxe edition), is the band’s self-discovery phase, as the album was released a little more than year after Curtis’s death, and the band still hadn’t decided who would be lead singer (Sumner sang seven of the album’s eight songs, with Hook singing the opening track, “Dreams Never End”); whether whoever was singing should try to sound exactly like Curtis (as evidenced on the band’s first single, “Ceremony,” and its B-side “In a Lonely Place,” songs written two weeks before Curtis’s death); or whether or not they should sound exactly like their old band.
As a result, Movement plays more like the last Joy Division record, with the band unable to completely shake off the remnants of their old band’s sonic palette. The album’s tone is resolutely bleak, and the songs are percussive (much like Closer).
“Senses” picks up where the percussive Closer opener, “Atrocity Exhibition,” left off, with Sumner’s guitar lines sounding like crackling electric wires underneath a thundering sky. Anthemic closer “Denial” incorporates synth washes into the band’s booming undertow, and the middle of “The Him” is as close to brutal heavy metal as New Order ever got.
Movement’s bonus disc showcases the electronic experimentation the band had on their mind as they finished the album. Standout tracks like “Temptation” and “Everything’s Gone Green” provide the template for everything that would follow in the band’s career.
Movement proves to be a prescient title for this album, since it captures New Order as they started to think about making music to move bodies, and moving away from their previously established drums-bass-guitar set-up into an electronic-focused blaze that would lead to the band’s masterwork, Power, Corruption, and Lies.
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