For Music Complete, New Order's ninth album and first in a decade, the band signed to new label Mute and welcomed keyboardist Gillian Gilbert back for her first recordings with them since 2001. Unfortunately, original bassist Peter Hook, who quit in 2007, didn't return and his bass duties were taken over by Tom Chapman, who played with Bernard Sumner in Bad Lieutenant. The return of Gilbert is a clue that the band is looking to the past for inspiration here and forsaking the guitar-driven rock orientation of its last couple albums for something more balanced, if not tipped in favor of more electronic and dancefloor-oriented songs. To that end, they brought in Chemical Brother Tom Rowlands as well as Richard X and Stuart Price to produce tracks. Not the most daring or forward-looking choices for collaborators, but their efforts result in some of the album's highlights. Rowlands invests "Singularity" with some Chemical Brothers-style punch, while "Unlearn This Hatred" has a passionate, almost industrial drive. The Richard X-mixed "Plastic" is the most new wave-sounding moment on the record, full of sparkling surfaces and fueled by some retro sequencers. Elsewhere, the bandmembers take it upon themselves to craft songs that have more joyful bounce than one would expect from them. "Tutti Frutti" is a tricky bit of electro-disco with a rubbery electronic bassline, some vintage keyboard wash from Gilbert, and a vocal cameo by La Roux's Elly Jackson. She's also on "People on the High Line," which is probably the funkiest track they've ever recorded, with finger-popping bass, house-y piano, and a beat that pulsates like a hot N.Y.C. summer night. The rest of the album features guitar-driven songs that are more in line with New Order's recent output, with "Restless" capturing the feel of their classic early tracks. ~ Tim Sendra
Mojo (Publisher) - "Arriving at this exalted place must feel complete indeed."
NME (Magazine) - "[I]t's a continually surprising set, and their best since 1993's original swansong, REPUBLIC."
NME (Magazine) - "MUSIC COMPLETE at last succeeds in doing the Manchester legends' pioneering dance-rock legacy justice."
Pitchfork (Website) - "New Order embrace electronics again on MUSIC COMPLETE, conjuring the kind of synth washes and house-y piano runs that could have easily pulsed across their records during their mid-'80s heyday..."
Clash (magazine) - "MUSIC COMPLETE is New Order's best album since 1989's TECHNIQUE."