Buried Treasures is a column dedicated to things we feel have gone underappreciated, often both critically and commercially. We encourage you to seek these moments out and hope you enjoy them as much as we do.
Words: Rajan Lakhani
Album: New Order - 'Technique'
Sandwiched between a re-release of their defining single 'Blue Monday' in 1988 and arguably the best football record made, 'World In Motion' in 1990, twenty years later, we perhaps overlook New Order's 1989 album 'Technique'. It still provides the best example of why New Order are seen as alternative music’s great innovators, introducing rave culture to indie and setting the groundwork for the likes of The Prodigy.
With his marriage breaking down, Bernard Sumner, lead singer of New Order, decided to get away to the acid-house haven of Ibiza with his band-mates, where they recorded much of this album. Fusing together synth-pop, guitar-rock and contemporary dance, New Order importantly updated their sound and showed they remained ahead of their field.
The result is a heady, addictive mix of dancefloor anthems ('Round And Round', 'Fine Time', 'Vanishing Point') and melancholy, melodic guitar-driven songs ('All The Way', 'Love Less', 'Guilty Partner'), which means the album never becomes one-dimensional. All of the band shine on this album and everything comes together organically – the beats, lyrics, Peter Hook’s bass, the melodies – in each track, meaning this is their quintessential album.
The opener 'Fine Time' is a statement of intent with its pulsating synth-riff as the band’s eyes are clearly on the dancefloor, capturing the hyperactivity and freneticism of Ibiza. While 'Technique' sees New Order at their most club-oriented, beyond those exuberant beats there is an underlying pathos as illustrated by the lyrics 'Round And Round': "I just can't help thinking what you've done to me/ You built a wall of love and tore it right down in front of me."
Sumner has rarely been so honest, having hidden emotions previously behind enigmatic lyrics. In 'Guilty Partner', he is unconvincingly expecting his relationship will continue ("You're not being cool with me /’cause I always know that you'll come back to me"), while with 'Run', a beautiful, stripped-back track at the heart of the album, he is struggling to comes to terms his personal situation ("What the hell is happening/I can't think of everything/I don't know what day it is/Or who I'm talking to"),
Nevertheless, the album avoids becoming doleful as the band’s sense of humour is very much intact. This is illustrated by the tongue-in-cheek come-on lines of 'Fine Time' ("Sophisticated lady/You know I've met a lot of cool chicks/But you've got style/You've got class/But most of all - you've got love technique") while a sheep bleats in the background, and calling a song 'Mr Disco'.
'Dream Attack' rounds the album off in style. As Bernard sings "Nothing in this world/Can touch the music that I heard/When I woke up this morning/It put the Sun into my life", you can’t help but nod your head in agreement. Although there were no major chart singles off the album, 'Technique. truly blows away the cliché that New Order never managed a great studio album. Often imitated (Happy Mondays, Primal Scream, Hot Chip, Cut Copy.) but never bettered, 'Technique' is a stone-wall classic which continues to set the standard for how emotionally and intellectually honest dance music can be.
STREAM: New Order - Run
DOWNLOAD: We Have Band vs New Order - Divisive Round & Round
Buy the 2 disc collector's edition of 'Technique' at Amazon.com, Amazon.co.uk or digitally.