New Order

Waiting for the Sirens' Call (Warner Bros.)

Only two of New Order's three signature elements are present on Waiting for the Sirens' Call--Bernard Sumner's airy voice and Peter Hook's springy bass. And that's not enough to keep the magic going. The Manchester legends have joined R.E.M. on the growing list of '80s icons who have declined from revolutionary rock to easy listening. Hyped as a "guitar album," the band's eighth LP suffers greatly from the departure of keyboardist Gillian Gilbert, who was also absent from 2001's well-received Get Ready and has now formally departed, leaving the programming, samples and keyboards uninspired and anemic. Even a hired-gun remix of the spacey dance duet "Guilt Is a Useless Emotion" is rote, at best, and the somewhat baffling "Krafty" finds the band dabbling in reggae. New Order now sounds more like Ace of Base than it does the band that wrote the book on electronic music.

 
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