London – 2001 – 50 minutes

It's hard to believe that New Order have been around for so long. At this stage it's nearly 20 years since they released the seminal Blue Monday 12" and changed the face of dance and chart music forever. After the release of 1993's patchy 'Republic' and the collections 'The Best Of' and 'The Rest Of' in 1995 it looked like the end for the band which rose from the ashes of Joy Division.

Each of the four members drifted off to do their own thing: Bernard Sumner released two albums as Electronic with Johnny Marr; Gillian Gilbert and Stephen Morris – as The Other Two – put together a couple of records of their own and Peter Hook convened Monaco with Sumner-soundalike David Potts. Despite all efforts there was no escaping their legacy – everything they did separately, no matter how good or bad, was compared to classic New Order tracks such as 'Bizarre Love Triangle', 'Temptation', and 'Regret'.

Reunited during the summer of 1998 for a handful of festival appearances, they decided to record another album, a risky undertaking considering the level of personal differences in the band (Sumner has commented that, by the end of 1993 they were all so strung out he had come to hate the way Hook ate apples and crisps) not to mention the fact that the world has done a lot of turning since the release of 'Republic'. In the notoriously fickle word of chart music, dominated by teenagers such as Christina Aguilera, could New Order possibly come back with an album that didn't make them look like Rolling Stones-type dinosaurs?

The opening track of 'Get Ready' proves that they still have an unabated fire in their belly. 'Crystal' is vintage New Order with big drums, an amazing bassline from Hook – you just KNOW the bass is being played right down at his ankles – and Sumner's typically simplistic lyrics. In these days of erudite singer-songwriters, his naïve rhyming couplets (honey/money, night/right) are a refreshing change although some do err on the dodgy side, especially the wistful teenage-esque lament "I don’t want to be/like other people are/don't want to own a key/don't want to wash my car" ('Turn My Way'). Sung with Billy Corgan, who has also been playing with them on tour, the song has Smashing Pumpkins' fingerprints all over it and should do New Order no harm in the US market.

Other guests include Primal Scream's Bobby Gillespie and Andrew Innes returning the favour that Sumner paid them by appearing on 'XTRMNTR' with Gillespie's sneered vocals on the Stooges-like 'Rock the Shack'. The up-tempo 'Close Range' starts off like a sound overspill from the Chemical Brothers' 'Hey Boy Hey Girl' but nothing can disguise the fact that 'Get Ready' is unabashed quality New Order from start to finish. After assaulting your eardrums with dance-pop of the highest order for forty-five minutes, the album ends with perhaps the biggest surprise – a beautiful acoustic ballad. 'Run Wild' sees Sumner at his most reflective, coming down, getting old, talking about God and loss. There's no coasting on past glories here. 'Get Ready' shows those chart-topping teenies where it's at. In a word, unmissable. Put it on and play it LOUD.

Caroline Hennessy

Tracklisting: Crystal - 60 Miles an Hour - Turn My Way - Vicious Streak - Primitive Notion - Slow Jam - Rock the Shack - Someone Like You - Close Range - Run Wild