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Best 10 Records of 2001 (in order)

Gorillaz - Gorillaz
Mercury Rev - All Is Dream
Bjork - Vespertine
Black Rebel Motorcycle Club - BRMC
The Strokes - Is This It
Spiritualized - Let It Come Down
Sparklehorse - It's A Wonderful Life
Ladytron - 604
The White Stripes - White Blood Cells
Daft Punk - Discovery

I actually saw New Order play live in 1982. In Hollywood, "Blue Monday" was the rage of the day. New Order simply played and they didn't even smile and they had their backs toward the audience most of the time. Many bands were like this. They were not trying to win a popularity contest. They had contempt. We liked our rock stars moody back then. They didn't even play "Blue Monday" either. None of us minded. There was Bauhaus and Birthday Party gigs down the road. New Order took a lot of E and did some dance records and made us forget that this was Joy Division. It's all about the music. Whether a song is good or not.

Today, most people think that Orgy wrote "Blue Monday." While most of New Order's output in the past 20 years sounds as dated as the synthesizers they were using that week, Joy Division "Closer" sounds like the record was made last week. What was New Order to do? We have heard rumors that they had never broken up and would release a new record, but then a side project like Electronic would pop up on the radar. New Order was definitely one of the pioneers of dance and techno music in the 1980s. That is why everyone from Chemical Brothers to Billy Corgan has wanted to work with them. "Get Ready" is their first album in eight years. Would it live up to expectations?

With all those great anticipations "Get Ready" is much lighter and subtle. The 1980s are long gone. Its innovations may be missed. Just like when Wire reformed a decade ago, you expect the world, and then you get this, which still is good nonetheless. This album is more like earlier rock music and minimalism. After a few songs you can notice that it's a new cycle. This is a band that is moving on. Many bands that have been together 25 years or more often put out new records, like The Rolling Stones, and most people ignore the new stuff and want to hear the hits. New Order have created something new, with the help of Steve Osbourne, and may be a sign of a load of further records.

Even with the contributions of Billy Corgan and Primal Scream, this is still a New Order operation. Corgan shows up on "Turn My Way" and it is a slow dirge and duet with Bernard Sumner. Primal Scream turn up the volume on "Rock The Shack" which is definitely a standout track. Some bands get mellow with age, some repeat themselves, and New Order doesn't care if you like them of not. I don't think they ever did. Back in the 1980s, many of us lost our virginity with New Order as a soundtrack. Now a whole other generation can do the same thing. New Order is a contradiction and like crystal "they break easy."

-- Alexander Laurence


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