A great leap forward from their understandably funereal debut album, Power, Corruption & Lies cemented New Order's place as the most exciting dance-rock hybrid in music (and it didn't even include the massive "Blue Monday" single, released earlier that year). Confident and invigorating where Movement had sounded disconsolate and lost, the record simply pops with energy from the start. "Age of Consent," a shimmering pop song with only a smattering of synthesizers overlaying Bernard Sumner's yearning vocals, proved his most assured performance yet. Unlike most of their synth pop compatriots, New Order not only utilized a wide range of synthesizers and sequencers but also experimented heavily with them. Bolstered by the addition of Gillian Gilbert, the band make the most out of their electronic gadgets, crafting indelible sequences, complex drum patterns, and oddly emotional washes of sound. What's more, while most synth pop acts kept an eye on the charts when writing and recording, if New Order were looking anywhere (aside from within), it was the clubs: both "The Village" and "586" had all the technological firepower and propulsive rhythmic strength of the mighty "Blue Monday." But whenever the electronics threatened to take over, Peter Hook's dubby, melodic basslines, Sumner's plaintive vocals, and Stephen Morris' point-perfect drum fills reintroduced the human element. Granted, they still had the will for moodiness; the second track was "We All Stand," over five minutes of dubbed-out melancholia. Aside from all the bright dance music and inventive production on display, Power, Corruption & Lies also portrayed the band's growing penchant for beauty: "Your Silent Face" is a sublime piece of electronic balladry and "Leave Me Alone" is a wonderfully melancholic slice of post-punk guitar pop. The album stands as a thrilling introduction to a band finding its feet and leaping ahead of the pack, combining superior songwriting skills, imaginative playing, and stunning arrangements that mixed the present with the future.
AllMusic Review by John Bush