Waiting for the Siren’s Call
o you know what it’s like to have an album by your favorite band strike fear into your heart? I don’t think I did before I got my first copy of this album. Sure I’d been nervous before about albums being disappointing—I’ve downloaded albums and slept on them for months because I was worried they wouldn’t meet my lofty expectations. But they were nothing compared to this—the utter sense of dread, the ridiculous procrastination in the foolish hope that perhaps if I ignored this album enough it’d cease to exist, and I wouldn’t be faced with such a crisis. Needless to say, all of my worst fears were utterly confirmed within two seconds of my having pressed play on the first track. I humored myself by listening to the rest of the album, but ultimately there wasn’t much point to it—within those two seconds, I knew everything I needed to know about Waiting for the Siren's Call.
Get Ready, contrary to what came to be popular belief, was not a great album. Get Ready was not a return to form, nor did it forge new ground. Get Ready was not better than it had any right to be for a band that hadn’t released an album in eight years—in fact, it had every right to be much, much better. Likewise, “Crystal” was not the best single New Order had released in ages. Actually, “Crystal” was the best single New Order had released since the last single they had released. Republic, maligned though it is to this day, was a great album. I’d hesitate to call Get Ready a good album. I’d hesitate to call Get Ready anything. I’d hesitate to listen to enough of Get Ready again to get a sense of what there is to call it.
Waiting for the Siren's Call is not a terrible album. Well, maybe it is, but not in the Machina: The Machines of God sense. In fact, you could listen to a song like “Krafty” and say “well, I don’t know what that guy’s going on about, this is a perfectly fine pop song.” And you’d be 100% correct—that’s exactly what “Krafty” is, actually. It’s a perfectly fine pop song. And you know what? There are 10 more where that one comes from on Waiting for the Siren's Call. But I don’t need to tell you what’s so horribly wrong about that, do I? In case we’ve somehow forgotten this somewhere along the line, this is still New Order that we are talking about. The human beings performing on this record are still Bernard Sumner, Peter Hook, and Stephen Morris.
Do we really need reminders of what these gentlemen (along with Gillian Gilbert) have accomplished? How they took the ashes of a once-legendary band and formed something far greater than anyone ever could have imagined? How they tried to create an encore that they could play by pressing a button and ended up forecasting the next decade of electronic music? How they managed to create music to pull you on to the dancefloor with the same force it’d yank your heart into your throat? It was improbable and it was risky and it was utterly, utterly fantastic.
And such is the problem with Waiting for the Siren's Call. They’ve fully removed the probability aspect of it. They took out the risk. I remember Bernard Sumner singing within an inch of his life. I remember them making performing on every single like it could be their last. I remember them putting songs on their albums that were downright shit. There is nothing like that on Waiting for the Siren's Call. There’s not enough room for error for that. Maybe their edge was lost in the lukewarm production. Maybe it was lost in Barney’s lyrics, which are as utterly meaningless as they have been for years now. Maybe it was just lost altogether.
Now, I know what you’re thinking. In fact, if it was any other band, I’d be thinking the exact same thing. Let go of the past. Stop judging them by their old stuff. Of course they’re not the same band they were in the 80s, it’s unfair to expect them to be. Let them evolve. There’s plenty here to enjoy if you give it a chance. And once again, you’d be completely and unassailably right. But you know what? This is not an objective review. I don’t want to give this album a chance. I don’t want to accept New Order as a perfectly fine band. I don’t want to be OK with that. And if you’ve loved New Order like I’ve loved New Order, I can’t imagine how you can be.