It's a funny thing when bands have a massive break and then come back with a new album. You wonder why they're doing it, and if they should've bothered. Some (like The Stone Roses) don't even get as far as making a record. When the band is question is one of your favourite acts of all time the questions become all the more demanding - what's the new stuff like? Does it '"desecrate the grave" (to quote John Squire) of their previous material, or add something worth hearing to their catalogue?
Such discourse brings us to 'Music Complete', a possibly ironic title given that bassist Peter Hook has left / been cast aside (depending who you believe) in a well-documented split. To counterbalance that Gillian Gilbert has returned, having not been part of the band since 2001, and her influence is keenly felt here. I'm not sure I ever gave her the credit she was due for her contribution to the band, but the keyboard-led tracks here must surely be partly due to her input.
So how does it sound? As I've said, it's definitely more keyboard focussed, dancier, and harks back more the 'Brotherhood' and 'Low-Life' era of the band (ironically, those are the 2 albums Hooky is currently touring with his band, playing mammoth sets each night to a rapturous welcome), and overall it's a pretty successful compilation of all best type of New Order songs. There are dancefloor bangers like 'Plastic', and more traditional songs like 'Academic'. La Roux's Elly Jackson contributes guest vocals to three of the songs and enhances these, rather than taking them over. The other guests are less successful though; Iggy Pop's spoken word effort on 'Stray Dog' reminds me of the track he did with Death In Vegas as few years ago and disrupts the flow of the record. Meanwhile Brandon Flowers undoubtedly came in his pants the moment he was asked to to sing on 'Superheated', but it's the least New Order-ish and therefore the weakest track here, a disappointing way to end the record. On the other hand Tom Rowlands from the Chemical Brothers manages to inject some contemporary rhythms into 'Singularity' and 'Unlearn This Hatred', which somehow results in these 2 sounding simultaneously sounding like the best bits of both bands at once.
I reckon it's a solid 8/10 type of record. I've certainly heard worse efforts from reforming acts (or those who refused to go away in the first place). I'm tipping them for a slot at Glastonbury next year - you heard it here first!