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Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Bad Lieutenant

Never Cry Another Tear (Universal Motown)

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For hardcore fans of New Order and Joy Division, the wait is over—somewhat. Even though the erupting Icelandic volcano postponed Bad Lieutenant’s U.S. tour, the band’s music remains intact. Former New Order lead singer Bernard Sumner stands at the helm, and drummer Stephen Morris plays on a number of the tracks as well. Blur bassist Alex James fills in for the missing Peter Hook (he left New Order in early 2007) while guitarist Jake Evans shares vocals with Sumner. Guitarist Phil Cunningham—who toured with New Order on their final stateside appearance in 2005—completes the musical corps.

The results? This excellent debut album showcases Sumner doing what he attempted to do on the final two New Order albums—break out into straightforward guitar rock (three guitars here) with shimmering melodies and ethereal backing vocals. While some songs have an eerily familiar New Order sound (the catchy first two tracks “Sink or Swim, “Twist of Fate”), the sound shifts and catches the listener pleasantly by surprise as Evans jumps in on “Summer Days” and “This Is Home”—a welcome musical departure that pairs his full-bodied vocals with Sumner’s deadpan tenor. The remaining tracks deserve repeated listens on an album that is one of the best of 2010.