More than 20 years ago, New Order vocalist Bernard Sumner and former Smiths guitarist/ tunesmith Johnny Marr made a pact: they would write the most inspiring dance music they could. Nothing works out the way it should, though, and with their 1991 self-titled debut (two further studio albums followed in 1996 and 1999) re-released and enhanced, the results are less than exciting. Taking Sumner’s intensely bland, emotion-free vocals as a starting point, the duo’s synthesis of rock, pop and rhythm comes across as far more sharply defined than Madchester’s loosely entertaining blend of beats and psychedelia. Along the way, Pet Shop Boys’ Neil Tennant lends a vocal hand ( Getting Away with It ), but the overall sense is of a side project that simply can’t match the peaks of its participants’ better-known music.
Download: Getting Away with It, Some Distant Memory, Feel Every Beat