MONACO Music For Pleasure (Polydor)

Presumably bored by the current no-go status of the mighty NewOrder, ex-celebrity husband (he’s the former Mr Mrs Merton, if that makes any sense) and Northern Viking bass god Hooky recruits a dead ringer Barney soundalike and record shop assistant and boldly goes....well, back to 1985 in fact, to make pleasant, toe-tapping but ultimately vapid music that sounds like it wasn’t quite good enough for New Order’s "Low-Life" album. The first words of this album are "Sha la la la la la la", and from that point onwards until Hooky’s ‘hidden’ closing comment "You can turn it off now" (ho, ho, ho, if only he’d said so fifty minutes earlier) there is absolutely no element of spark, spontaneity or surprise. The lyrics are vague generalisations about, ooh, love and human empowerment and that, a bit like "World In Motion" with John Barnes’ rap taken out, the songs sport mysterious but essentially pointless titles such as "Buzzgum", "Junk" and "Billy Bones". It’s a credit to how far ahead of their time New Order must have been that much of "Music For Pleasure" (not a shred of irony inherent in that choice of title, I’ll bet) still sounds tolerably modern, but as a listening experience it’s down there with "Republic" and "Raise The Pressure" in the benchmarks-in-uninspired-averageness department.

Joy Division

New Order