A bunch of outtakes from an album that even most New Order diehards agreed wasn’t particularly strong? Lost Sirens couldn’t have a much more lackluster pedigree or lazier title—the best thing going for it might just be low expectations. The not-quite-album-length release consists of songs that the long-running British band recorded for 2005’s underwhelming Waiting For The Sirens’ Call, which then sat on the shelf—originally intended for a quick follow-up that never happened, as New Order scattered once again to the winds.
The band reignited for some cash-in shows in 2011, but without founding member Peter Hook, whose bass playing is an inextricable part of the New Order sound (and the Joy Division sound before that). There’s enough bad blood between them to fill buckets at this point, and it seems likely that Lost Sirens will be the band’s swan song—or at least the band as the world has come to know it. The good news is that these songs are no worse than any on Waiting; the bad news is that they’re no better, either. The band’s live show is now reliant almost exclusively on greatest hits, of which there are plenty. Its recording career appears to be ending here, with a halfway-decent whimper.
That should come as no surprise, though: The formula for each album since 1993’s Republic has been to find one massive, fantastic single and surround it with a bunch of New Order-by-numbers tracks. “Crystal” redeemed 2001’s Get Ready; “Krafty” did the same for Waiting For The Sirens’ Call. That savior doesn’t really show up on Lost Sirens, though: “I’ll Stay With You” is a solid strummer in the vein of “Regret,” but never comes close to eclipsing it; “Sugarcane” attempts to break the mold of recent years by getting a little more disco-fied, and it’s fine. Then there’s “Californian Grass,” the next in a series of New Order songs that end up sunk by general listlessness and terrible lyrics. It’s all just fine, mostly in the unflattering sense of the word: It still sounds like New Order, a band that put out some incredible records in the last 30 years, but that stopped growing and changing in half that time. Treading water keeps you afloat, sure, but it rarely gets you anywhere interesting.