The New Order saga is like a modern-day Shakespearian Comedy of Errors. This is the group behind the world's highest selling 12-inch single and the management 'geniuses' who opened a club that traded heavily in the red only to open up a second one that did the very same thing. The latest instalment sees the group receiving large plaudits and revitalised interest (for their first band, Joy Division) due to the success of 'Control' and an eponymous documentary. But then we discover some love lost, as Peter Hook (bass) and Bernard Sumner (guitar/vocals) decide they don't want to play together anymore.
Enter Bad Lieutenant – a group consisting of Bernard Sumner, Phil Cunningham (guitars, New Order) and Jake Evans (guitars). For the recording, the trio were joined by Stephen Morris (drums, New Order) and Alex James (bass, Blur).
But for the fans hoping that this would be New Order II (or indeed, mark III if we're being pedantic) they may be disappointed to discover that the debut album, Never Cry Another Tear, sounds closer to Sumner's Electronic project, a premise that is particularly evident in the lead single, 'Sink Or Swim'.
The most obvious change is that New Order's core sound is missing and in its place is music that is more guitar-fueled and commercially slick. 'Summer Days On Holiday' is a catchy and layered pop song full of Spanish guitar strumming, infectious rhythms and orchestral tinges that oddly enough makes for a completely danceworthy track. 'Dynamo', meanwhile, is a big old harmony-fueled rock song. It could be the answer to U2's 'Beautiful Day', even though it borrows an element or two from The Who's 'Won't Get Fooled Again'.
'Love Vigilantes' is channelled on 'Shine Like The Sun'. And 'Head Into Tomorrow' has the most intricate acoustic guitar flourishes that have been sadly missing in action since 1973, when Led Zeppelin released 'Over The Hills And Far Away'.
Bernard Sumner has always been an underrated songwriter, and in 2009 he proves he can still make vital and interesting contemporary music through his mature years. Even though diehard New Order fans will curse Barney and Hooky for choosing new playmates, there is no denying that the Bad Lieutenant grouping has revitalised Sumner's writing and completely trumps 2005's Waiting For The Sirens' Call.