Let me just clear something up: New Order are not, nor have they ever been, a new wave synth-pop band. Their music inspired a lot of it, yes, and their most famous songs ('Bizarre Love Triangle', 'Blue Monday') were synth pop but the timelessness, power, emotion and innovation of their music has them being recognized now as easily one of the most respected, influential and popular bands of all time. Too much to be lumped in with some trendy garbage of the era. Their albums are modern classics.
It's too bad the sleeve for this album lost its magic in translation to cd format. The vinyl version of this album is stunning.
The music catches them wanting to ditch the heavy, stylized gloom of their Joy Division work and 'Movement'. Yet, they hadn't fully committed to making flat-out pop music like on every subsequent release. So every song bubbles with the sound of a psychedelic post-punk band with subtle programming echoing the New York City hip-hop and electro at the time. The lyrics are borderline incomprehensible, but they work because against the odds they evoke strong emotions, more so then on any other New Order album. The music is still overwhelmingly sad and joyous at the same time, a New Order trademark.
There are two very different versions of this album. The U.S. Warner release includes 'Blue Monday' and 'The Beach'. My problem with this version is that after the song 'Leave Me Alone' the album should just end, it's a natural and beautiful ending for the album, instead it jumps into a bouncy 7-minute electro workout 'The Beach'. It's just wrong!