It’s impossible to listen to New Order’s 1981 debut album, Movement, without thinking of Ian Curtis, the Joy Division singer whose death by suicide had been the catalyst for that band’s remaining members—Bernard Sumner, Peter Hook, and Stephen Morris—to start New Order in the first place. Perhaps because of that loss, Movement is a work of transition—the sound of friends starting over, and moving on. The album’s opening track, “Dreams Never End,” anticipates the spectral voice of Curtis in its first few bars, but shifts expectations as the guitars segue into a mini-bridge, building to a combination of rapid drums and a jangling riff that would become more familiar as New Order—and guitar music in general—progressed throughout the 1980s. (“Dreams Never End” is one of only two songs in the group’s entire catalog to feature vocals by bassist Hook—proof that New Order was so young, it hadn’t even figured out that Sumner was destined to become its full-time lead singer). “Truth,” meanwhile, retreats to a sparse post-punk sound that makes up the rest of Movement. Taken as a whole, the album has more in common with what Joy Division once was than what New Order would become. This is in part the result of bleak production choices by Martin Hannett, the infamously cantankerous producer whose style helped define Joy Division—but whose difficult behavior had become untenable by the time New Order formed. Then again, none of the brand-new New Order members were in a proper state of mind while recording Movement, and there’s a sense of confusion and grief that casts a shadow across the album. Fortunately, there would soon be light.

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