Probably the least celebrated / discussed of all the New Order albums from the 1980s, ‘Brotherhood’ released during that decade’s seventh year, was even strangely almost completely ignored / glossed over when top drummer / beat-maker Stephen Morris chatted to Noisey a year or two ago about the group’s back catalogue.
Well, this writer for one quite enjoys his copy of the LP, actually.
Lots of it has a certain Smithsy feel to the guitar work. Listen to the way the six string jangles and glistens in that very Marr-like way on the hurried, passionate Weirdo. Meanwhile, Peter Hook’s signature low slung bass takes the lead rather excellently on the more reflective As It Was When it Was (it almost sounds like it’s in call-and-response to Bernard Sumner’s weary, recollecting vocals). This track does energise it up toward the end, as does the altogether more consistently faster paced Broken Promise– with it’s almost Wizard like form of speed glam-, suddenly appearing in uncooperative mood as the feedback moment arrives and the rhythm tightens. (I always thought that New Order’s part in influencing the cult post-punk / C86 heroes the Wedding Present never gets the mention it perhaps deserves).
During side one’s final track, the impossibly upbeat Way Of Life, the band sound to be genuinely enjoying things (not that they weren’t before), and it also features one of their finest track-endings (and they do have many of those), a high tangle of fretboard abuse as if the strings are about to snap.
We’ve all heard Bizarre Love Triangle’s spirited, immersive disco-pop (“it was kind of done in a schizophrenic mood” said Morris in that aforementioned interview), and it’s a track worthy of the group’s most excellent batch– and timelessly mighty– mid-eighties single releases. Angel Dust meanwhile reels in some of that earlier stately dance-goth of yore New Order, while Paradise shows itself as a steady, consistent opener, one that perfectly prepares us for the bittersweet set of rattling, indie-dance synthesis– that was as much northern post-punk melodic desolation as it was a curious excitable ear on the Detroit techno scene– that was to come.