Bass player Peter Hook famously described Republic’s lead single “Regret” as the “last good New Order song”—a harsh criticism, but one his estranged bandmates would tacitly co-sign in the years ahead. As the band’s resident ranconteur, Hook has always been prone to hyperbole. But the charts don’t lie: Upon the release of New Order’s Republic in 1993, “Regret” would become the highest-placing single of the band’s career in both the UK and the US. The song’s success can largely be attributed to its impeccable blend of catchy guitar riffs, melodic bass lines, groovy electronic drums, and stirring synth, with a sing-along chorus that ranks as one of the band’s best. But “Regret” also came at a time when the members of New Order were reaping the rewards for a sound and style they’d sown for nearly two decades. Just as 1989’s Technique reveled in the excitement of late-1980s acid house—a scene that would have been unimaginable without early New Order hits like “Blue Monday”—Republic arrived when Joy Division-inspired alternative music was at its peak. Left-of-center artists like The Smashing Pumpkins and The Breeders were ruling rock, and “Regret” fit in perfectly with the times. But even with a mammoth hit, the band members were miserable. In fact, they hadn’t even wanted to make Republic in the first place, doing so only to support the ailing Factory Records (the label went bankrupt before the album arrived). And while the album was a hit, landing the band some of the biggest live gigs in its history, it would be eight years until the world got new music from New Order—a regrettably long time.

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