It took quite a few listens to find the music of "People on the High Line" as compelling as the title. But ultimately the appropriation of Chic is irresistible. Anwen Crawford in the New Yorker objected, but why? Chic is to dance music what Euclid is to geometry: the axioms are there to be used.
But even better is the appropriation of Elly Jackson of La Roux (who also appears on “Tutti Frutti”). Jackson was born five years after New Order’s biggest hit, and her music is completely derivative of that earliest stage of synth pop/techno/disco.
In the same vein, the CD concludes with "Superheated", an ending credit song for a hypothetical John Hughes movie—seemingly in collaboration with Pure Prairie League, but actually featuring Brandon Flowers, whose band derives from a New Order video (“Crystal”). The fact that the New Orderlies are unafraid to make a thing out of their seniority is reassuring. I find the presence on the album of Jackson and Flowers much more provocative than Iggy Pop’s intimations of realness (“Stray Dog”).
All the music seems to be in dialogue with the past or the present. "Plastic" is a homage to Giorgio Moroder and the late Donna Summer. The kids with bad posture may not get the references, but they’ll be swaying above their devices. "Unlearn This Hatred”, on the other hand, seems directed at the kids (shouting, “Screw you: we invented anthems.”) And they revisit their own back catalog: "Nothing but a Fool" recalls the era of Technique, "The Game" that of Get Ready.
Crawford’s review likened New Order’s music to “a wakeful poignancy, like the dawn walk home after the best party of your life.” It’s a lovely thought, however most of New Order’s music strikes me as a phone message from a complete stranger sent by accident from a club. The speaker is saying everything that he has kept bottled up during the period of hopefulness, but now that’s over. He finds the most exact, cutting words. He’s shouting at the wrong person, and the party continues without missing a beat. You feel a bit embarrassed and you feel a bit frightened, but you can't stop listening.