New Order enters the New Year with an amazing blast-from-the-past demo

4/5 Stars 

New wave groundbreaker, New Order, is back with a new single to ring in the New Year. Released January 13, the Skullcrusher (Demo) EP is the band’s first release since 2021. (Who knew New Order was still up and running in the 21st century?!?) This single, however, is not composed of newly crafted songs. This is a compilation of an absolutely fantastic old demo and two cathartic recording sessions, all of which fit cohesively together and take the listener back to 1980-something; you can almost feel your hair teasing itself as a thick layer of blocky eyeliner materializes on your face.

This single begins with “Skullcrusher (Demo),” the titular track. This song has an amazing, droning, rhythmic bassline and distant, boxy drums, like they are being played in another room. The song feels automated, but in a good way. Many new wave bands would weep tears of joy if you told them that it sounds like a computer made their music. “Skullcrusher…” sounds like the coolest Chuck E. Cheese performance possible, played for only the coolest of little kids. The guitar is slippery — it’s playful and fun but still executed perfectly. “Skullcrusher (Demo),” has been floating around on Youtube and SoundCloud for years, as a formally unreleased track being uploaded by New Order superfans. The addition of this track to Spotify and thus formal release, is deeply exciting.

Track two is “Love Vigilantes – TV Pitch Instrumental Edit,” a very interesting instrumentals-only edit of the band’s song, “Love Vigilantes.” Hearing the track without vocals is a bit jarring, especially because the lyrics are the most powerful part of the song. Yes, the instrumentals are catchy and absolutely amazing, but truly the lyrics themselves are poetic. An edit that removes the lyrics from the song does not do this song the justice it deserves. This track is by no means bad, it just simply does not complement the masterpiece that is “Love Vigilantes,” in a way that it should. If it ain’t broke don’t fix it.

The third and final song on the listing is “The Perfect Kiss – Writing Session Recording.” Another instrumental track, this single does not cater to the lyric-oriented listener. If you love groovy, futuristic-yet-also-retro-sounding soundscapes, if you like throwbacks to the heyday of new wave, if you want to pretend you’re in a goth nightclub, if you want to feel like you’re in a pivotal Stranger Things scene, if you are a music production nerd: this is the perfect listen for you.