Album Review: Bad Lieutenant – Never Cry Another Tear

by Tony Butterworth on October 5, 2009

Badl

If you’re my age and grew up in the UK then you are a New Order fan.  You may no longer like them or remember them that well,  but as soon as you hear their songs it takes you back.  If you want to be cool you claim to be a Joy Division fan; or knowledgeable. you’ll play the Electronic, or better still, Monaco card.  Over the years New Order matured and came back towards a pretty traditional but always entertaining pop music sound but sadly appear to have closed up shop for the last time due to disputes between Bernard Sumner and Peter Hook. I am huge fan of Bernard Sumner, especially his singing voice.  I recently saw him on the UK based Songbook show discussing his songs and revealing that he would soon be releasing an album with his new band, Bad Lieutenant, and after a long wait it’s here.

Officially, Bad Lieutenant are Bernard Sumner (vocals/guitar), Stephen Morris (drums), Phil Cunningham (guitar/keyboards/vocals), Jake Evans (vocals/guitar), and Tom Chapman (bass).  Cunningham and Morris are ex-New Order members, Evans is a new young talent, and Chapman remains a mystery to me.  Many false rumors claim Bad Lieutenant to be a Blur/New Order super group but this is false.  Alex James was instrumental in the formation of the band, since early rehearsals took place at his home, but he was never a member and contributes only minimally to Never Cry Another Tear.

The album opens with “Sink or Swim.”  I’ve heard this one before.  It’s a classic slice of latter day New Order and is a wonderful song, Sumner’s voice is at its best (he’s not the best singer in the world but his voice always works well).  “Twist of Fate”  also has that New Order feel, right down to the pounding bass.  Another enjoyable tune, though it lacks the melodic beauty of the first track.

“Summer Days on Holiday” is the first track to really feature keyboards, but even with that there is a sameness to the sound now.  However the chorus here is another highlight, I’m assuming it’s sung by Jake Evans, who sounds remarkably like Noel Gallagher at this point.  Just so I can sound like a broken record this is one of those songs, like many here, that goes on sixty to ninety seconds too long.  “This is Home” once again starts with a bass riff that is quickly joined by jangly, rousing, guitars.  In this one we get vocals from both Sumner and Evans.  Evans takes the first part with his deeper, more gravely, voice. Sumner comes in for, what is basically, the chorus and his higher, more melodic, voice creates a great contrast.  This song is another of my favorites.

It was nice of Bernard to bring his kids to work with him.

It was nice of Bernard to bring his kids to work with him.

“Running out of Luck”  opens with the bothjangly and acoustic guitar.  This is another Sumner sung song (say that ten times quickly). It’s slower paced than the first four and creates a nice contrast but ultimately it doesn’t go anywhere interesting.  Song six is “Dynamo,”  once again a long intro leads us into another Sumner slower paced track, a basic tune with a lot of synth sounds filling it out, suddenly bursting into an energetically sung chorus. (For Sumner to momentarily move away from his laid back lilt is quite a shock.)

“Poisonous Intent”  starts with picked guitar, reminding me, for some reason, of Lyndsay Buckingham, but we rapidly move into a synth driven, semi-spoken (by Sumner) tracks. To be quite honest it sounds almost like a teenager freestyling lyrics in front of the mirror (not the lyrics of a fiftyish man).  “These Changes”  is a Jake Evans sung track, his voice, the echo used, and the rocking but laid back acoustic track really make this sound like an Oasis song (all the members of Bad Lieutenant and Oasis being from the same town may be a factor).  This is another of my favorite tracks.

“Walk on Silver Water”  is a pretty tame track again rescued by a decent chorus.  Perhaps as an earlier song it would have stood out but at this point it’s nothing new for this album. “Shine Like the Sun”  opens brightly (unlike most of the others). It’s another Evans track and once again I like it (I think I’m starting to spot a trend here).

“Runaway” is a mid-tempo track based around piano and synth (more than many of the others at least).  Sumner sings this one.  It’s one of the more memorable songs on the album, something about it makes it easy to sing and remember.  The last “official” track is “Head Into Tomorrow” which  opens with another gently strummed acoustic and after another long intro Evans voice arrives to sing this ballad.  It’s a harmless song, well sung but it never really goes anywhere.

Bonus Section

Welcome now to the exciting bonus section of this review where we review the bonus tracks (what is a bonus track when it appears to exist on all copies of the album anyway?) First bonus track “Falling Trees” starts brightly and is a Sumner track with an odd trace of T-Pain style auto-tune on his voice at times.  More of the same here, not necessarily a bad thing but this is definitely one of the less interesting tracks. We finish off with  “Split the Atom,” once again opening with acoustic guitar and piano, joined quickly by synths and Evans’s Gallagher-like voice.  This song is interesting as it blends Evans and Sumners voices together during the chorus, it works well and is an underused approach on the rest of the album.

Overall, Never Cry Another Tear is a very entertaining listen and recommended to all.  It never really reaches the lofty goals set by the first couple of songs and I’m pretty sure it will not have a long lifespan on my player but it’s still a great listen.  I have to wonder if my lifelong commitment to New Order and my enjoyment of the Songbook show with Sumner gives this album a gloss that is undeserved but give it a listen for yourself and decide.

Watch the video for Sink or Swim:

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{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Sunil November 11, 2009 at 7:11 pm

I had a chance to listen to this cd and it is very good. If you like great guitar playing, synths and great melodies you will love this. There is not one bad song on this album, from start to finish this cd rocks, with great New Order style moments in it. Bernard Sumner is a musical genius who has worked with New Order, Electronic and Joy division. If you like this cd Please give New order and Electronic a listen and you will love it, also listen to the first Album By a band called MONACO called Music for Pleasure which is also very good (New Order side project). It is very sad that New Order broke up, let’s hope they patch up their differences and make another album. Give the Bad Lieutenant a chance and you will love it.

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