Not everything can be determined by canon. In many cases, the critics’ consensus favorite album by an artist is correct. Take, for instance, The Cure’s Disintegration. It’s a masterpiece. And there are plenty of arguments for other albums of theirs as all-timers (I often go back and forth between that and Pornography and a handful of others) but their biggest, most ambitious and complex one is pretty much the greatest.
New Order is different. There is a critical favorite pick, and it’s one that I’d say is easily their best album, Power, Corruption & Lies. But of everyone I’ve ever had this discussion with, the answer seems to vary. A lot of people love Brotherhood. A lot of people love Technique. And if we’re talking in fantasy-world terms, their best album is a combination of their early singles and b-sides with about half of Movement.
But I do have a sentimental favorite of sorts. Back when I was in high school, I discovered a box of cassettes in my brother’s bedroom (vacated when he went to college) that had a bunch of old dubbed tapes. Most of them were full albums—there may or may not have been a couple of mixtapes—and I inadvertently discovered a lot of albums from the ’80s that have become favorites of some sort today, including The Jesus and Mary Chain’s Automatic and Camper Van Beethoven’s Key Lime Pie (a sleeper favorite, if you haven’t heard it).
One of them was Low-Life. It wasn’t totally foreign to me; I already knew “Perfect Kiss” and “Subculture” because they were featured on the Substance compilation (though the album versions don’t have the MIDI frogs). But there were other songs I’d (I think) never heard before that kind of blew me away, like the epic “Sunrise,” more of a driving post-punk track than their bigger synth-pop singles, and “Elegia,” the instrumental that was also featured in Pretty in Pink.
It’s hard to say any of New Order’s albums are underrated, because for a solid decade or so they were pretty well rated (other than Movement, which a lot of people claim sounded too much like Joy Division, but is actually a great album so just chill). It is kind of a sleeper, though, if only because it’s sandwiched between two other hit-making albums. I have another reason for calling this a sentimental favorite, that being “Perfect Kiss” was featured on the playlist my wife and I put together for our wedding. (Yes, it’s a song about suicide and masturbation and things that generally don’t fit the theme but we’re weirdos.)
So while I won’t say it’s the best New Order album, it’s one I have a lot of affection for. But hey, everyone’s got their favorite.
Sound Quality: Great