Manchester Legends New Order are back with their first material for five years. The track, ‘Be a Rebel’, is the band’s first release since their comeback album Music Complete in 2015.
This track reminds us of New Order’s leading role in electronic dance-rock. ‘Be a Rebel’ arranges bubbly, up-beat synths evoking positivity and excitement. This is all the while the band demonstrates their political engagement with the track, tackling environmental issues and social diversity in Bernard Sumner’s lyrics. Sumner sings: “For this world can be a dangerous place / but it’s all we’ve got / and it’s quite a lot.” And again in the chorus: “You’re just different / but that’s ok / we all follow our own way. / And if you find that they don’t listen / then they’ve got nothing to say”. Although the lyrics tackle heavy subjects, they are comforted by Sumner’s vocal style.
With a life-span of 40 years, it’s difficult to place this track alongside New Order’s previous material. The structure of the track is reminiscent of New Order at their peak with their intricate synth sequences and infectious back-beat, but without the presence of the bassline of founder member Peter Hook, who called time on the band in 2007. The absence of Hook’s iconic bass sound in New Order’s recent material is like a body without a limb.
This track is a welcome reminder of the thirst for dance music, with nightclubs and dance venues becoming non-existent since the pandemic began. It is fitting the band are lifting it from the parapet.