New Order has regularly searched out trendy dance-music styles. Most recently, the quartet explored the musical scene of Europe's current hot spot, Ibiza, the Spanish island where Technique was partially recorded. Although it stays within the limits of New Order's basic sound, the album incorporates traces of "the Balearic beat," a purported Mediterranean-derived successor to the now passé (in Britain, at least) acid-house fad.
No matter Technique delivers a solid blast of sonic presence with immaculate playing; it's a surprisingly inviting album from this generally reserved outfit. And even if the title intimates emotional sterility, the lyrics suggest that someone in this enigmatic band is madly in love.
New Order typically fashions some songs specifically for club play and others for smaller-scale enjoyment; Technique is evenly balanced. The high-energy "Fine Time" echoes giddy Seventies techno-disco with electronic drumming, a repetitive riff, throwaway vocals and sound effects that include synthesized sheep. Meanwhile, the band's sober alter ego emerges pale and pretty on "Love Less." In the wonderfully catchy "All the Way," guitarist Bernard Sumner sings the be-your-own-best-friend message in an engaging melody over thrusting bass. Martial drumming underpins textured layers of guitar and keyboards as the lovely "Run" builds toward a midsong climax. Back on the dance floor, "Round & Round," "Mr. Disco" and "Vanishing Point" percolate with driving percussion and instrumental bridges custom-made for DJs and remixers.
While providing cerebral dance music that satisfies pop demands, Technique proves that New Order is also in step with clubland's fickle fans. (RS 548)
(Posted: Mar 23, 1989)
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