Dreams never end....
Released November 1981
Recorded in Stockport
1. Dreams Never End
4. Chosen Time
6. The Him
7. Doubts Even Here
From the unfortunate ashes of the ground-breaking Joy Division came New Order, without deceased vocalist Ian Curtis. His stamp and legacy is still all over this album, which still retains the dour, introspective, post-punk atmosphere of Joy Division's two albums. However, from the first upbeat notes of the vibrant "Dreams Never End" there is a slightly discernible shift in mood. A more effervescent liveliness that, of course, would see the new decade end with the band sunning themselves in Ibiza as kings of the burgeoning dance club scene. The post-punk sombreness is still not far from the surface at all on this album, though, exemplified on the mournful, haunting "Truth". A lot of the group's material is still ghostly and mysterious. To my taste, just as it should be. If I am honest, I much prefer this, and the Joy Division stuff to all that hands in the air dance material, man. To say nothing of that dreadful football song. Give me dismal student music any day.
"Senses" is a departure from the norm, with some rhythmic, tribal-sounding drums all over it. The vocals are still deep and edgy and there are still lots of industrial-sounding noises and a big rumbling, sonorous bass sound. It has that Talking Heads "I Zimbra" rhythm to it, though. The changes are beginning to come. I have never quite understood why this album got such comparatively bad press both at the time of release and in retrospect. Personally, I have always enjoyed it and feel it is a fine, atmospheric piece of work.
"Chosen Time" has that typical Joy Division bass line but it is quite fast-paced compared to much of the earlier work. It is a song that cries out for Curtis's wired-up voice. The vocal on here is too low, both in the and in the mix. There is some excellent Kraftwerk-style train-sounding synthesiser at the end of it. "ICB" is a particularly mournful number very much in the Joy Division fashion. "The Him" continues in the same vein. It is understandable why they were still putting out stuff like this in 1981. post-punk was still de rigeur, "New Romanticism" had barely begun, so it was very much in keeping with the times. Incidentally, listening to the bass and drums on this number, I have to say that these 2015 remasters are excellent.
"Doubts Even Here" is also very Talking Heads-ish, to me, and is possibly the most baleful in its "Curtis effect". It sounds genuinely sad from beginning to end. "Denial" lifts things up a bit with an energetic beat, although the vocals are still somnolent. I suppose it is fair to say that they couldn't keep putting out albums like this, however good they were. People were beginning to tire of the gloominess.