In 1980, the music world was stunned by the suicide of Ian Curtis. With Joy Division, he had made two brilliant albums, in addition to several incredible singles. He seemed to have a wonderful future ahead of him, and then, he was gone, with his suicide too tragic to imagine. After his death, however, his bandmates made the brave decision to carry on, and continue to make music under the name New Order.
Guitarist Bernard Sumner took over on vocals, while former punk musician and friend of Joy Division Gillian Gilbert came on as the keyboardist. Roughly 18 months after Curtis’ suicide, New Order would release their debut, Movement, an appropriately dreary album that was similar in tone to his own writing, while also carrying the added weight of his death.
While Movement is a solid album definitely worth your time, it feels like New Order’s second album, Power, Corruption & Lies represents their true beginning. While their debut often felt like a Joy Division album with Bernard Sumner on vocals, this was where New Order truly defined their sound. You can hear it from the opening notes of “Age Of Consent,” one of their signature songs. The song is so… well… joyful, in a way that Joy Division never could be. The same goes for “The Village,” a celebration of new romance that has also endured over the years. The only thing that resembles the misery of Joy Division might be the immortal “Blue Monday,” and even then, dark lyrics are masked by a beat that made it one of the best dance songs of its era. With Power, Corruption & Lies, New Order had truly emerged from the death of Ian Curtis, and they were happier than ever.
Throughout the 1980s, New Order further refined their sound by releasing a string of classic albums. The 1-2 punch of Low-life and Brotherhood kept the good times rolling, as the band quickly became a singles machine. Tracks like “Love Vigilantes,” “The Perfect Kiss,” and “Bizarre Love Triangle” became their most enduring numbers from this period. The band ended their strong ’80s run on a high note by switching their sound up with Technique, an album that embraced more modern dance sounds. “Fine Time,” the record’s best-known track, contains the line “you’re much too young/to be a part of me.” That phrase pretty much sticks in your head forever after a single listen.
After 1993’s Republic, the band went through a break-up that would last for about five years. It would be in 2001 that they would finally hit the studio again and give us Get Ready. The album is perhaps best known for the single “Crystal,” whose video featured a fictional band called The Killers — which is where the actual Killers took their name. These albums were less popular than the ones released in their ’80s heyday, but they were still a strong presence on the dance charts, and “Crystal” is often hailed as one of the band’s best singles, on par with their prime.