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This weekend I’ll be mostly listening to… Bad Lieutenant [Bernard Sumner’s latest vehicle] May 29, 2010

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Culture, This Weekend I'll Mostly Be Listening to....

I appear to have lost touch with music to a degree that I can’t quite believe, because it was literally this week I discovered that New Order, sans Peter Hook, finally released an album last year under the Bad Lieutenant name (and Peter Hook released an album last month or so under the Freebass name, of which more soon).

It’s sort of a logical continuation of a sound that typified the final NO album “Waiting for the Siren’s Call”. It’s poppy, but Bad Lieutenant is a lot rockier, which is not to say that it’s rock, it’s clearly hard to shift Bernard Sumner from the musical position he has made his own across thirty odd years or so. So single Sink or Swim is bippity boppity New Order like, albeit a little bit more charged and with added extra acoustic guitars. It’s almost rockist. And it’s almost Monaco (Peter Hooks last but one solo vehicle) like. Ironic that…

And then… we arrive at the most fine This Is Home where, someone else (guitarist Phil Cunningham) takes over parts of the vocal duties and it all begins to sound a little bit, or actually quite a lot, like Doves.

Now I like Doves as much as the next person, perhaps more, indeed up until their last album Kingdom of Rust I’d have argued they were probably one of the most impressive indie bands of the 2000s. KoR didn’t quite cut it with me though. But it’s sort of weird to hear a New Order/Doves amalgam. Weird in some respects a good way and in others… not so much. And again there are the guitars, there’s quite a bit of them and they hearken back to the 1970s, and I don’t mean punk and post punk, or at least not mostly. There’s something almost Steely Dan or 1970s Californian, or even at a stretch REMish about some of the guitar lines.

Nice enough. Which in a way sums up the album. It’s pretty damn good, but I’m not sure, in fact I’m pretty bloody certain, that it’s great. Lot’s of lovely sounds, great vocals (from both of them in truth) – shoddy lyrics: Sumner can’t resist singing about driving cars and there’s at least two and possibly three songs where we are treated to lines about rivers rolling along or to the sea (and there’s a certain glum fascination in trying to determine which – if any – of the songs are directed at one P. Hook). And there is just the faintest hint of the Seahorses, John Squires entirely unlamented post-Stone Roses project, in all this. Just a hint mind, but it’s in the rockist trappings that occasionally overwhelm the songs. Thankfully that can only be said of one or two of them, and I’m finding that I like both the Cunningham vocals on songs and the Sumner vocals and that overall it’s growing on me. In general.

But, the beauty of an album in this digital age is that you don’t have to listen to all the songs. And for all that it’s Sumner and a new band and that’s always worth something. Part of the fascination is in seeing him (and his peers from NO – next week Freebass) chart out terrain around their central sound, finding ways to make music that sounds similar, but not quite the same. That they and he have managed to do that across three or four decades is no small achievement.


Sink or Swim

This Is Home

Twist of Fate

Sink or Swim/Bizarre Love Triangle (Acoustic)


1. Anastacia - May 31, 2010

Actually the other singer in Bad Lieutenant is Jake Evans, another member of Bad Lieutenant, who is Phil Cunningham’s friend.


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