Following the suicide of frontman Ian Curtis the previous year, the members of Joy Division decided to continue recording music, appointing guitarist Bernard Sumner to vocals and changing the band's name in compliance with a pact they made that required them to do so should any member be removed from the lineup. The band previously debuted the "New Order" moniker in January with the release of their debut single, "Ceremony", a Joy Division song that had been written but only rehearsed prior to Curtis' death, and followed that up with "Procession" the following September (alongside a re-recording of "Ceremony" with new member Gillian Gilbert on guitar). November's Movement, however, was the first time the band attempted a proper studio album as New Order.
Produced by regular Joy Division collaborator Martin Hannett, the album acts as a continuation of the sonic palette explored on Joy Division's second and final album, Closer. While the arrangements are comparatively more minimalist, veering closer to cold wave in the process, synths are present on all but the opening track, and the album's general sound acts as a middle ground between the Post-Punk that made Joy Division famous and the electronic sound that would define New Order's forthcoming career.
The album was the band's first to have a concurrent U.S. release, on the American version of Factory Records, distributed by fellow indie label Rough Trade after Joy Division's belated American releases. Conversely, Movement was the last of New Order's Factory-era studio albums to be released on Quincy Jones' Warner (Bros.) Records-based Qwest Records label, first appearing on CD in 1989 as a mailing club-exclusive release before appearing in brick-and-mortar stores on CD and cassette in 1992; Factory US briefly put out their own CD release in 1987 before Qwest's supplanted it. It would not be the last Qwest Records release of New Order material though, with the band still releasing material in the US through the label up until their jump to Reprise Records for US distribution in 1998 with Warner's reissue label Rhino Records handling the band's back catalog after the dissolution of Qwest.
A late 1981 performance at the Ukrainian National Home in New York City was also recorded for a home video release, Taras Schvenko, in 1983. The video shows New Order's unusual performance style at the time, with a short set, moody lighting, no stage announcements and Peter Hook playing with his back turned to the audience much of the time, all of which seemed to take the already insular nature of Joy Division's performances and bring them even further inward. The performance video would later be reissued with the band's 1998 performance at the Reading Festival (their first after the hiatus following Republic in 1993) on the New Order 3 16 DVD. For the 40th anniversary of Movement, the performance was also uploaded in song-by-song segments to the band's official YouTube channel.
Like the Joy Division duology, Movement was not supported by any singles. However, the band did release three non-album singles between December 1981 and March 1983— "Everything's Gone Green", "Temptation", and "Blue Monday"— which became a crucial outlet for New Order to re-focus their sound and gradually shift into their Signature Style that blended post-punk and Synth-Pop. "Temptation" ended up becoming the Trope Maker for Alternative Dance, and "Blue Monday" would serve as the band's Breakthrough Hit in the UK, helping bolster the sales of Power, Corruption & Lies two months later.
- "Dreams Never End" (3:13)
- "Truth" (4:37)
- "Senses" (4:45)
- "Chosen Time" (4:07)
- "ICB" (4:33)
- "The Him" (5:29)
- "Doubts Even Here" (4:16)
- "Denial" (4:20)
- Gillian Gilbert - synthesizers and programming, guitars, spoken words ("Doubts Even Here")
- Peter Hook - 4- and 6-stringed bass, vocals ("Dreams Never End" and "Doubts Even Here")
- Stephen Morris - drums, synthesizers and programming
- Bernard Summer - vocals, guitars, melodica, synthesizers and programming
"The trope begins, collapsing without warning":
- Accentuate the Negative: Given that this album was more or less an attempt at continuing Joy Division under a different name, this trope was inevitable. The fact that the entirety of this album is spent mourning the late Ian Curtis makes this even more prominent.
- Album Title Drop: The opening track includes the phrase "a simple movement or rhyme."
- Alternate Album Cover:
- The first US releases on the LP and CD formats each featured a noticeably different color scheme from the UK release, with the LP featuring brown-on-ivory art and the CD cover being black-on-white. However, later reissues in the US reverted back to the dark blue-on-light blue cover used in the UK, starting with the Qwest Records reissues. Interestingly, while the initial US LP release was put out in 1981, the same year as the first UK release and four years before the band signed onto Qwest Records west of the Atlantic, the initial US CD release was put out in 1987, two years after the deal with Qwest had been established.
- CD releases change the text "FACT. 50 1981" on the front cover to "FACD. 50 1981," reflecting the different prefix Factory's catalog numbers used for album releases on the format.
- Broken Record: The phrase "but never gets in how the Him will scream" is repeated several times at the end of "Dreams Never End".
- Call-Back: The title of "Dreams Never End" is a nod back to the line "guess your dreams always end" from Joy Division-era track "Insight".
- Color Motif: The front cover, album cover, and disc label all prominently make use of blue, tying in with the melancholy tone of the record and the emotional state of the band in the wake of Ian Curtis' death.
- Early-Installment Weirdness: Compared to later New Order albums, Movement is bleak Post-Punk (with its minimalist, synth-heavy style bringing it within the realm of cold wave) rather than the sardonic brand of Alternative Dance that more thoroughly defined their career. At this point, New Order was simply aiming to continue what they had started as Joy Division and didn't undergo the Genre Shift until after they realized that their first approach wasn't working, so the disparity is understandable.
- Fun with Acronyms: The track title "ICB" is an acronym for "Ian Curtis buried," something long-rumored by fans and eventually confirmed by Peter Hook in an interview.
- Grief Song: Movement can be considered a grief album, being produced while the former members of Joy Division were still in shock over Ian Curtis' suicide not even a year prior.
- Idiosyncratic Episode Naming: The disc labels on LP releases refer to each side as "Movement 1" and "Movement 2".
- In the Style of: Peter Hook's vocals on "Dreams Never End" and "Doubts Even Here" are a clear attempt at mimicking Ian Curtis' signature yarling singing voice.
- Line-of-Sight Name: According to Peter Hook, the title and hidden meaning of "ICB" ("Ian Curtis Buried") came from the initials for International Couriers Business, who were transporting the band's flight cases from America; Hook read the letters and quipped "Look at that. It's Ian Curtis Buried."
- Minimalistic Cover Art: A futurism-inspired design incorporating the letters "F" and "L" (as in the Roman numeral for "50") as a clever way of playing around with the album's catalog number of FACT 50.
- Non-Appearing Title: Joy Division's habit of not including their song titles anywhere in the lyrics continues here. Played with in the case of "The Him"; the phrase is absent from the song itself, but appears at the end of "Dreams Never End".
- One-Word Title: Movement, "Truth", "Senses", and "Denial".
- Record Producer: Martin Hannett; this was the final album he produced with the members of Joy Division, walking out on them during production of the non-album track "Everything's Gone Green" a year later due to his discontent with the band's state without Ian Curtis.
- Step Up to the Microphone: Peter Hook gets lead vocals on "Dreams Never End" and "Doubts Even Here", the latter of which also features spoken-word parts by Gillian Gilbert, one of few instances in New Order's catalog where she has any vocals. In Hook's case, this was in part due to a brief period early in New Order's history where they were unsure as to who would be taking over lead vocals in Ian Curtis' absence.
- Stop and Go: "The Him" seems to pause to a close after its second verse, only to suddenly start up again, sounding much more aggressive than before, for the outro.