Thursday, March 11, 2010

Bad Lieutenant - Never Cry Another Tear (2009)

It's not often I get suckered at Newbury Comics anymore.  I've learned my lesson:  I go in with a list, and that's pretty much what I look for.  

However (and these stories inevitably have a "However" or a "But" in them), my eye caught Bad Lieutenant's Never Cry Another Tear with the promo sticker:  "Featuring Members of New Order and Joy Division!"  And it was on sale for $7.99.  Nah, I don't have a problem.

First revelation:  it's really New Order's Bernard Sumner and Phil Cunningham, along with some guy named Jake Evans (from the band Rambo and Leroy, which I've never heard of).  The only Joy Division link is Sumner, which is cheating.  Now, the sessions were aided by Stephen Morris, who was in both Joy Division and New Order... but it's still cheesy to promote the album that way.  With Morris in the mix, it's more like:  "New Order without Peter Hook and Gillian Gilbert, but with some guy you've never heard of who sings half the songs!"  Not as pithy, but more accurate.  Ex-Blur bassist Alex James comes along for the ride for the recording sessions. 

Confession:  I do love Joy Division (thanks to Yves, Scott, and Sean), but I really have never gotten into New Order; this definitely verges towards the latter.

That being said, it's the way I want New Order to sound.  BL is still a pop entity, but with more guitar influences than NO.  "Sink or Swim" is a great leadoff track, but it's the second track that sells the album:  "Twist of Fate."  This is an 80's hit that's 25 years late in being released; it's one of the three songs (Manic Street Preacher's "Marlon J.D." and Idlewild's "Little Discourage" being the others) that I am constantly playing these days.  Truly a gem, with Bernard Sumner at his absolute crooning best.  It's fantastic.

In fact, after the first five songs, it's pretty clear this is safe, well-adjusted 80's revivalist pop with some interesting musical twists, and very listenable.  The issue with the album is its length, and that when I hear Rambo, er, Jake Evans sing, they start to sound like Coldplay.  And not in any good way.  They should have stopped at between eight and ten tracks; that would be a tight, strong album.  Instead they decided to release fourteen tracks, which just drags the plot out way too far.

In the end, this is a must-buy for New Order fans, and is a should-buy for everyone else, as it is an excellent album.  It loses steam along the way, but that just means the front half is safe and interesting while the back half is inoffensive and bland.  

Merch Rating:  I'd buy their next album, no questions asked.  Normally I'd look for additional tracks, but I feel like the kitchen sink is already included on the album.  I'd go see them if it was convenient; merch buying at the venue would be based on performance but the album is good enough to think I'd at least buy a t-shirt.

CD Placement Rating:  On its way to the gold (Car CD Changer), the back half of the event means only silver -- Portable CD Player.

MP3 Recommendations:  "Twist of Fate," "Sink or Swim."  And MSP's "Marlon J.D." and Idlewild's "Little Discourage."

- Snilch