Less than a year after releasing their Music Complete album—one of their first after an extended hiatus—New Order have returned once again. Acting as a repackage for the album, their latest release Complete Music features extended mixes of each song from the original album; the groundwork for each song is the same, though some mixes do feature more changes than others. While it seems like a niche piece that casual listeners would steer clear of, it does carry some merit for fans.
While the first half of the album is made up of the extended mixes, the original album is still a part of the package. The songs are all entirely unchanged, with the same mixture of songs leaning on the spectrum from dance-rock tracks like Academic and Restless to the disco of Tutti Frutti and the electronic groove of Unlearn This Hatred. This repackage style release does offer some merit to fans who may not own Music Complete yet, though may be unnecessary in the long run; considering it started as an hour long album, putting seven to ten minute extended mixes in the same tracklist does cause it to drag considerably by the time it’s finished.
When it comes to the extended mixes, the main draw of the collection, the results are somewhat mixed. Some of the album’s mixes to change things up, with The Game in particular going from a synth-heavy track with a complete focus on electronic instruments to a natural rock track, still with accompanying electronics but still a completely different take on the same song.
Many of the songs are largely the same in their extended form though, never really making any changes in the remixing process; the already insanely catchy Tutti Frutti mostly gains an extended low-key retro bass and synth intro before leading into the same disco track that was on the original album, adding two minutes of this to the already six minute long song. A similar fate is met by People on the High Line, and though the mixes feel somewhat necessary they’re still enjoyable thanks to their base, especially due to the inclusion of La Roux’s Elly Jackson on vocals. String sections and electro bridges find their way into songs like Academic and Singularity respectively, but there isn’t always much else.
While Music Complete was a solid album, Complete Music almost feels unnecessary. With songs technically being packaged twice on the same album, thanks to how little some of the songs actually change, it becomes a chore to listen to with little payoff following from it. The songs don’t always lend themselves to extension either, with the application of extending songs in this way feeling like more of a dance music thing than something that would fit New Order’s dance-rock style. While Music Complete is a solid album by itself, Complete Music proves that more isn’t always instantly better. This is something for huge fans of the band and Music Complete to enjoy.