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From the book 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die.

Low-Life

New Order

1985

Low-Life

Album Summary

Low-Life is the third studio album by English rock band New Order, released on 13 May 1985 by Factory Records. It is considered to be among the band's strongest work, displaying the moment they completed their transformation from post-punk hold-overs to dance-rockers. The album shows New Order's increased incorporation of synthesisers and samplers, while still preserving the rock elements of their earlier work. The original Factory CD issues of the album were mastered with pre-emphasis. The songs on this album formed the basis of the band's live concert video Pumped Full of Drugs, filmed in Tokyo shortly before the album's release. The music video for "The Perfect Kiss" was directed by Jonathan Demme.

Wikipedia

Rating

3.28

Votes

5907

Genres

  • New Wave
  • Post Punk
  • Electronica
Reviews
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View Author
Mon Mar 29 2021
5

Highlights: The Perfect Kiss, Sunrise, Sooner Than You Think, Sub-Cultures Oh sure, you can think of New Order as the "Bizarre Love Triangle" band, but did you know they have other songs?! Low-Life is so much more than what you'd expect from the legacy of Joy Division and pioneers of New Wave; It's perfectly crafted in every way. It opens with standard New Order fare with Love Vigilantes progresses into an evolution of lush synth goodness with The Perfect Kiss (or Bizarre Love Triangle Evolved)...Then crests with Sunrise, a surprising and excellent rock/synth power ballad. Sooner Than You Think floats in the middle of the b-side in a dreamy, atmospheric ghostlike presence. The layered tapestry of Sub-Culture diverges and peaks at chaos (the good kind), then immediately ties everything up in a immaculate bow. Face Up closes out with callout to previous efforts, and I imagine is there to remind us at the end, we're still listening to New Order. This is a fantastic album.

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Wed Feb 17 2021
4

Elegia was especially beautiful and I think a fitting tribute to Ian Curtis. A very melancholy synth-pop bit of brilliance. I knew I was going to really enjoy this album, so I was struggling between 4 and 5. 4.5 if possible. Def worth a re-listen!

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Mon Aug 02 2021
4

...apparently I had no idea about what New Order actually were. I was most definitely not expecting this to start off with a accessible *upbeat as hell* simple 80s pop rock song - what!? As an 80s rocker kid I avoided New Order because I thought "ick - no guitars or "real" drums but all moody electronic synths??" (n.b. which I would likely love now) but "Love Vigilantes" seems like it could have been something from Big Country or The Alarm. And to be sure the album soon covers moody-synth territory, with heavily layered sequencers moving right in on the second cut but I definitely have a new-found appreciation for the music - it's far more complex and deep than I would have imagined. Yet there's a peculiar mix of styles on this album - just when it seems to be settling into this sequenced new wave we get something like "Sunrise" which is just a killer rock track. I do find some of the instrumentation or mix ... weird (e.g. on "This Time of Night" the overdubbed drum fills practically coat the song) on some of the colder songs but that's a retroactive-80s style thing I'm still not used to :D Overall though this was highly unexpected and is a pleasantly odd mix of synthy dark 80s dance tunes and up-tempo pop-rock songs. I'm glad to have listened to this - a keeper and not just as a timepiece for the era. 7/10 4 stars

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Thu May 06 2021
1

“Low-Life” by New Order (1985) First impression: extremely weak lead vocals, poorly recorded. Perfect mismatch between the message and musical settings. Lyrics are okay; music is terrible—a rare combination. Actually, by the end of the album I changed my mind. The lyrics are bad too. Their electronic/disco tracks are better suited to dancing than listening. Highly programmed, one can move the body without engaging the mind, while one’s soul is focused on the gyrations of one’s dance partner(s). Hope he/she/they are hot, cause the music’s not. God, these lead vocals are horrible. Words fail. By the middle of track four, I began looking for the cameras. I was sure I was being punked. 1/5

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Sun Jul 04 2021
5

An album that doesn't really have any of the hits and is all the better for it. New Order's most cohesive and coherent album by far.

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Wed Sep 15 2021
5

I've listened to PC&L over a dozen times (one of my favorite albums of all time), but this is my first time listening to Low-Life. Each time I listen, it gets better and better. This album marks a gradual shift from New Wave towards dance-pop through the increased use of synth and less reliance on punk. These 8 tracks are absolute bangers. The first and last tracks are slightly weaker and almost deter from a perfect score. But the rest of the tracks are at least near masterpieces. Love the vocals and synth effects. Their music always gets me moving around and grooving the unique sound that influenced much of synthpop to come.

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Mon Oct 18 2021
5

10/10 It’s tragic hearing Joy Division without Ian Curtis, but I think Gillian Gilbert was able to move everything to it’s fullest potential. Joy Division always sounded their best when they harnessed synths, I just really wish we could get Ian Curtis’ beautiful vocals and lyricism for New Order. Despite that, this album is still INCREDIBLE. I love the gritty edge of Joy Division put in a Techno-pop dance style. It’s perfect music to jam to, whether to get hyped up (like Sub-Culture) or to get in a more dark mood (like Elegia) Again in a perfect world, we would have Ian Curtis on this but of course, it’s tragically impossible so I have to see it for everything else that makes this album amazing. One of my favorite albums.

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Mon Nov 15 2021
5

I love this album. It's one of my favorites of that era. It got endless play in my house when I was a teenager and it's one I never tired of over the years. I think it's probably the first New Order album I had ever heard, so I have a special sentimentality for it. New Order made several terrific albums in the 80s, beautifully crafted collections of unique songs that were eminently listenable, front to back. No bad tracks. Low-Life is just one of those albums. It's full of gorgeously layered electronic arrangements, elevated by Peter Hook's guitar in a way other synth-based bands could never really touch. Bernard Sumner's slightly strained vocal style may be grating to some listeners, but we always liked it for that reason. It added a little texture to an otherwise pretty polished sound. Sumner never tried to be Ian Curtis. He knew his limits as a vocalist and kind of leaned into them, which I can appreciate. The album's only weak spot would be in the lyrics, which always seemed like a bit of an afterthought. This is the case with a lot of music in this genre. Bonus points for showing a sense of humor by adding the “frogs” to “Perfect Kiss.” Fave Songs (all songs, from most to least favorite): The Perfect Kiss, Love Vigilantes, Sub-Culture, Elegia, Sunrise, Face Up, Sooner Than You Think, This Time of Night

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Sun Mar 14 2021
4

80's synth pop with an undercurrent of darkness and academic post-punk--ya know, New Order's whole thing.

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Sun Jul 04 2021
4

Some of you may have already read my story about Peter Hook's impressive pissing stream leading to me killing a stripper on another New Order review. Well, I have one more thing to add to that - that stripper was my own daughter. MY OWN DAUGHTER!

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Tue Jan 25 2022
4

This is not my kind of favorite music, but this album is excellent! The lyrics are very interesting !

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Thu May 06 2021
3

Was not expecting to recognize a song right of the bat - I think I actually know "Love Vigilantes" not from this original version but from the Iron & Wine cover. Found my head bobbing to "This Time of Night." Overall it was somewhat forgettable, one I likely won't come back to. But I liked it more than I thought I would.

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Wed Jan 20 2021
3

I like new order, I really do. But aside from Love Vigilantes this album doesn't have much standout material. I kept wishing I was listening to Power, Corruption and Lies. The new wave is strong with these men. The Synths are quite dated but there's a lot to like here.

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Sun Jul 04 2021
3

Prefer the old order

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Fri Jul 16 2021
3

Great in places but never really catches fire for me

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Thu May 13 2021
3

Couple of good tubes but pretty samey

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Mon Aug 02 2021
3

i really liked “elegia” i thought it was different and really cool. other than that i liked the album but it wasn’t anything special

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Fri Jan 29 2021
2

Well, it sounded like other rock from this time period. I didn't mind the sound or composition, but it wasn't memorable to me either. The lead singer's voice seemed to deteriorate over the course of the album, ending up with the last track being really uncomfortable to listen to.

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Wed Jun 09 2021
2

This sounds pretty close to a guy singing karaoke at a bar after several drinks. He's not bad, per se, but it's just off enough to be jarring. The music itself is solid and well done, but the vocalist sounding like he's decided on a different key entirely is not a plus.

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Fri Jan 29 2021
1

Big OOF, this album started out sounding rather generic then by the end it was hard to listen. I don't mind synth music, but nothing about this album is remarkable in anyway. Top 3: lol....

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Sun May 30 2021
5

I love this band and love this album. This is New Order at the peak of their powers!

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Sun Feb 28 2021
5

Surprisingly great, each song has something else that I liked about it, 80s pop with an edge

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Mon Jan 18 2021
5

Holy crap these drums are so good. I'm starting to understand the obsession with that 80's sound but the drums stand out here.

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Thu Jan 21 2021
5

I really like this one. Kind of like rock with 80s driving beats and synths.

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Wed Dec 30 2020
5

I really liked. It's pretty much the same as The Cure or even The Smiths to me, but well, I really like those too.

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Fri Apr 02 2021
5

Perfect mix between synths and guitars

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Wed Jul 14 2021
5

Surprisingly good, a nice mixture of sounds with a really 80s feel

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Tue Jun 01 2021
5

Cool

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Thu May 13 2021
5

The first really good album I've been given that I haven't heard already. 4.5

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Mon May 10 2021
5

Suuuuper 80s and a little emo. I like it a lot more than I was expecting to. Reminds me of some of that old emo punk like early Blink.

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Mon May 10 2021
5

fedt

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Thu May 27 2021
5

Love it. Sad Boy anthem

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Thu Oct 21 2021
5

New Order's everyday and simple lyrics sometimes come in for criticism (because some people just can't accept when something is perfect). Yes they sing about often mundane and banal subject matter but it is transformed through the unbelievable music into a form of escape and transcendence.

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Wed Nov 17 2021
5

This is a great one.

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Tue Nov 30 2021
5

Amazing beat techno really jamming out to this for hours!!

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Tue Dec 28 2021
5

I like New Order and own a compilation disc of their music and one of their 90s releases. I hadn’t listened to this album before. I had heard the first two songs before listening to this but was surprised to discover my favorite stuff in the tracks I had never heard before. Highlights: Love the beats and frogs and sheep and cowbells in “The Perfect Kiss”. The guitars were fantastic in “Sunrise.” Really love this song’s echos of punk music melded with 80s dance. Great song, great intensity! The synth and guitar instrumental “Elegia” was fantastic. Moody. Complex. Beautiful. “Sooner Than You Think” has such great lyrics. Love the music too, those guitars near the end are too good. “Sub-Culture” and “Face Up” seems to end the album on a note that sets a course toward New Order’s future albums. Great New Order album! Had my rating floating between 4 and 5, but “Sunrise” made this one easy to round up.

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View Author
Tue Dec 28 2021
5

Ah, New Order. I never had this album, but I knew every song from various compilations, mix tapes, and an obsessed college roommate. Some of these I haven't heard in many years. Although I was a huge fan, I never learned the song titles very well, since they are never very well connected to the lyrics. Thus I didn't make connections later in the download age. Eighties British electronic dance music was my favorite in college, and New Order was right at the top. Although this would probably not be my favorite New Order album, I love it and I was happily brought back in time and I score it on that feeling.

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Tue Jan 11 2022
5

Låter otroligt bra.

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Wed Jan 19 2022
5

Ahead of its time. New Order is fantastic.

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Wed Feb 02 2022
5

mu weeeno full 80tero

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Tue Feb 15 2022
5

Their very best. 8 perfect tracks on long play format, enjoy this from start to finish.

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Sat Mar 12 2022
5

It's so much better than any Joy Division album. Been using "The Perfect Kiss" to test headphones for years now hahah And "Sunrise" was an unexpected banger. Minds of 99 has no doubt taken inspiration from these guys. Oh My God. "Elegia" is amazing. Holy shit I love this. 5

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Mon May 16 2022
5

I was more familiar with Power, Corruption & Lies. This is a great followup. Moody synths, sort of dancey, not quite as hooky as Blue Monday. Just a great Friday listen.

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Mon May 16 2022
5

There was a long time that New Order was a secret guilty pleasure band for me, and this record in particular because electronic/dance was most definitely not my scene. Love Vigilantes has always been a favorite, but damn, I like the dancy bits. Maybe me, but I hear a fair amount of “The Cure” sound in here too with the guitars.

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Mon May 23 2022
5

Thought this was brilliant. High energy and intense. "Elegia" was absolutely standout for me, will be listening to it fairly regularly from now on.

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Wed Jun 01 2022
5

New old-sound for this age.

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Mon Jun 20 2022
5

Yes I like New Order

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Mon Jun 27 2022
5

One of my favourite New Order albums - love Subculture and Elegia and Face Up

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Tue Aug 02 2022
5

It's a great album and a great way to be introduced to New Order. For someone who had not heard of them.

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Wed Aug 03 2022
5

This surprised me, very much a headphones album with layers and layers. No massive stand out tune and not blown away by vocals but an album to get lost in. 4.5

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Fri Aug 12 2022
5

The debate will always rage about New Order's 80s albums vs the singles, possibly the last group where this a genuine discussion. The Perfect Kiss 12" is better than the album version, they recorded a 17 minute version of Elegia and put out another 12" version of Sub-culture. But it's a pretty perfect album nevertheless.

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Fri Sep 02 2022
5

First time listening. Had it on loop flying back from Malaga at 3am after a long weekend on the piss. Slept most of the flight but whenever I'd wake up, every track was sensational 🤌🏻

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Sat Sep 10 2022
5

Magnificent.

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Mon Oct 24 2022
5

Arguably the best New Order album with start to finish mix of guitars, drums, synths and that bass. Oh how I CAN bear the thought of you!

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Tue Nov 01 2022
5

Прослушано! Отличный альбом, слушать обязательно.

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Tue Nov 08 2022
5

Cannot separate the nostalgia from the music. This is ❤️

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Tue Nov 08 2022
5

Yes NEW ORDER !! TOTALLY INTO THIS !! SEEN THEM 1X AND LISTENED 20X

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Fri Dec 02 2022
5

Jesus christ this album is fucking fantastic

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Mon Dec 12 2022
5

take the Kraftwerk foundation and add enough poppiness to make every track a banger. this scratches multiple itches in my brain: like emotional Stranger Things montage music + bittersweet Cyberpunk denoument music. floored I enjoyed the album this much. 5/5

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Thu Dec 29 2022
5

Awesome album. Full of high notes and high energy songs, as well as contains one of my favourite New Order tracks - Elegia. It is also short and sweet, not too long, not too short. While I think their previous album is a classic (Power, Corruption and Lies), this still comes through as a very string album. I would give it 4.5 out of 5, but there is no such rating, so I will round it up - 5 it is.

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Tue Jan 10 2023
5

Great early alternative rock

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Sat Jan 14 2023
5

This was such a good album. It was right up my alley, my kind of music. The opening and ending (loved face up) were great songs and this time of night.

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Mon Jan 30 2023
5

LOOOOVE

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Tue Jan 31 2023
5

More upbeat than the New Order I’ve listened to recently but love love loved this album. Some of the coolest stuff coming out in that period imo

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Wed Feb 01 2023
5

Erstatta albumversjonen av Elegia med fullversjonen, siden eg har ein svakhet for 17 min lange sanga. Og lure på om detta e første gang eg hørre heile?? Siden iTunes-versjonen eg har alltid skippe ette ca 9 min av ein eller anna grunn. The Perfect Kiss minne meg om han tiktok-fyren eg fulgte før som laga ein dans til den lol. Nostalgisk album med masse bra synth

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Fri Feb 19 2021
4

great. real 80s sounding stuff

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Wed Oct 14 2020
4

7/10

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Sun Jan 03 2021
4

Good-to-great. The original vocals on Sub-culture are so off-melody though - the remix cleans that up, at least. Sunrise/Elegia are the real highlights here.

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Fri May 07 2021
4

Faktisk udmærket Brit-pop. Kunne egentlig godt blive ret fedt at høre på, men ørene mangler erfaring. Flere gode numre. Den får 4 fremskrivende stjerner

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Thu Jan 28 2021
4

Liked it a lot but not really music to listen to at work. I like Joy Division and I can hear their roots sometimes

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Mon Feb 01 2021
4

I enjoyed it a lot. I don't really listen to a lot of synth-pop, but this album, especially the second half sounded epic. Will definitely be turning it on for some laid-back listens. Favorite songs: Sunrise, Elegia, 6/8.

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Mon Jun 21 2021
4

Big fan of this album.

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Fri Feb 12 2021
4

Liked it, but maybe needs another 2-3 listens. Subculture and This Time of Night were best.

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Tue Jun 01 2021
4

I liked the album overall but “Elegia” pushed it to 4 stars!

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Fri Feb 12 2021
4

Solid! Roots of early NIN, obvs.

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Fri Apr 09 2021
4

Like it so far

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Thu Jan 14 2021
4

First entire New Order album I've ever listened to.

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Wed Feb 17 2021
4

A really fun and poppy (and 80s) album! This Aussie gives it four tins of Milo out of five.

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Thu May 06 2021
4

Do like their combination of synths and guitars. Not my favorite album by them but their sound in general definitely works for me.

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Thu Apr 15 2021
4

Great for the 80s

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Tue Jan 26 2021
4

enjoyed!

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Sun Feb 14 2021
4

Great 80s alt pop. Has love vigilantes

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Mon Feb 01 2021
4

Amazing album. 2nd best NO album. 8/10

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Fri Feb 12 2021
4

Beautiful album from a band I'd never heard of before. Absolutely get the connection to Joy Division. Elegia and Sub-Culture were particular favorites

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Fri Mar 26 2021
4

I think I've heard a lot of songs from the album but have never listened to the album. A lot of the songs sound the same to me after a while but I like them.

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Fri Jul 16 2021
4

I always liked Joy Division and I had something "against" New Order, but this album changed my mind. I need to go back and listen to them again. I know that this phase is not absolutely "synth" as the next albums, but it was a so good experience and I think that I'm able to give them another chance.

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Fri Jul 02 2021
4

Cure-ish

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Tue May 18 2021
4

"My friend took his final breath Now I know the perfect kiss is the kiss of death" (The perfect kiss) "(Whatever you may think of me whatever you may say I've lived my whole life in danger, You've lived your life in hate)" (Sunrise)

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Fri Jun 18 2021
4

Oké album. Elegia is mijn favoriete nummer op dit album

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Mon Jul 19 2021
4

Fast besser al Joy Division

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Fri Jul 16 2021
4

New Order couldn’t do much wrong around this time, High Life is surrounded by other class albums and there isn’t much wrong here. Driving beats, lush synths & hooky’s basslines, so so good!

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Sat May 01 2021
4

I was happy to see this album come up. I haven't listened to this album before, but I do like New Order. The first two tracks are the most familiar to me, and are tracks that I would listen to again. The album worked as a whole for me. I would give this album somewhere between 3.7 and 4.0 stars.

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Wed Jun 02 2021
4

First song in and I'm really enjoying this sound so far. Kind of reminds me of an 80s Arcade Fire in a weird way. Yeah this is pretty lush for an 80s album. I think this is one of my favorite albums I've listened to on this list so far.

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Mon May 24 2021
4

As usual this new order album sounds excellent, great songs, kind of lulls a bit in the middle, not their absolute best but it's better than most bands can do

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Fri Jun 04 2021
4

Some classics on here. Would be great for an 80s party.

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Mon May 24 2021
4

Great listening.

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Tue Aug 10 2021
4

Fun new wave album with some killer synth lines on it

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Wed Aug 11 2021
4

its good. poppy and fun and way les overplayed

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Sat Aug 21 2021
4

The first half of this album is ok. The second half starts off with a beautiful composition followed by somewhat better songs. 4/5

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Wed Sep 08 2021
4

Yass. Not my favourite New Order album but a goodie, to be sure.

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