Power, Corruption & Lies is the second studio album by New Order, released in 1983 through Factory Records. Many listeners see it as their best; it's definitely a Surprisingly Improved Sequel to Movement, fully establishing the band as a unique artistic entity, no longer in thrall to the specter of Joy Division. Though the band was not yet fully figured out their brand of Alternative Dance, having only just recently invented the genre, this album marks the point where they fully and effectively embraced synthesizers and drum machines.
The first release didn't include their Breakthrough Hit "Blue Monday", which was only available as a single (in part due to being recorded after the sessions for the album). This notably caused so much confusion over listeners who got into New Order via "Blue Monday" that Factory eventually started shipping copies of Power, Corruption & Lies with a sticker on the shrinkwrap reading "DOES NOT CONTAIN 'BLUE MONDAY'". The Factory US cassette and later Qwest Records American cassette and CD releases added the song, along with its B-Side "The Beach," to the track list.
- "Age of Consent" (5:16)
- "We All Stand" (5:14)
- "The Village" (4:37)
- "5 8 6" (7:31)
- "Blue Monday" (7:32)*
- "Your Silent Face" (6:00)
- "Ultraviolence" (4:52)
- "Ecstasy" (4:25)
- "Leave Me Alone" (4:40)
- "The Beach" (7:22)*
*Added in Factory US's cassette releases and Qwest Records' CD and cassette releases
- Gillian Gilbert - synthesizer, guitar
- Peter Hook - bass, percussion
- Stephen Morris - drums, synthesizer
- Bernard Summer - lead vocals, guitar, melodica, synthesizer
You've caught me at a bad time, so why don't you trope off:
- Accentuate the Negative: The album title.
- Alternative Dance: This album was more or less the Trope Codifier for the genre, alongside "Blue Monday" later that year (which was added to certain re-releases of this album). The band had previously acted as the Trope Maker with "Temptation" the previous year, but it was this album where the hallmarks of alternative dance first developed.
- Alternative Rock: Helped codify the British side of the movement and, along with R.E.M.'s Murmur that same year, instigated a shift to it in the indie/underground scene, which was previously dominated by Post-Punk (which the members of New Order had previously codified as Joy Division) and New Wave Music.
- Anti-Love Song: "Blue Monday", in which the protagonist feels mistreated by his partner.
- "Leave Me Alone" uses the same chord progression (on bass, at least) as "Shadowplay" from Joy Division's Unknown Pleasures, albeit in a different key and slowed down a little.
- The back cover artwork uses a similar floppy disk and secret code motif to the "Blue Monday" 12-inch.
- Digital Destruction: Qwest's CD release omitted the floppy disc and secret code on the back cover of the LP version.
- Epic Instrumental Opener: "5 8 6" could be mistaken for a funk instrumental until the Song Style Shift and vocals start near the 2.5 minute mark.
- Epic Rocking: "5 8 6", "Blue Monday," and "The Beach" all run over seven minutes. "Your Silent Face" is exactly six minutes long.
- Idiosyncratic Episode Naming: As with Closer from three years prior, the album sides aren't explicitly differentiated on the LP label, instead choosing to indicate sides A and B as part of the serial number in the runout groove, though this record at least features tracklists to go off of. Cassette releases at least have indicators on both the tracklist and tape labels telling which is which. Interestingly, the cassette release label the sides as "one" and "two" rather than the LP release's "A" and "B".
- Intentionally Awkward Title: "Age of Consent", titled after the legal term for the minimum age at which individuals are legally permitted to engage in mutually consensual sexual activity. The song has nothing to do with sex.
- In the Style of...: "Blue Monday" and "The Beach" are uncharacteristically Hi-NRG songs based on a mix of Donna Summer, Klein + M.B.O., Sylvester, and Kraftwerk.
- Last Chorus Slow-Down: "5 8 6".
- New Sound Album: This was the first full-length where they fully transitioned into their trademark Synth-Pop sound.
- Non-Appearing Title: The band's habit of not dropping the title in their songs holds up on most of the tracks, save for "Ecstacy" and "Leave Me Alone". The album title isn't dropped anywhere.
- Non-Indicative Name: "Age of Consent" has nothing to do with actual age-of-consent laws or sex as a whole.
- One-Word Title: "Ecstasy".
- Pep-Talk Song: "Age of Consent", wherein the protagonist finally stands up for himself.
- Regional Bonus: The American cassette and CD releases featured "Blue Monday" and "The Beach" as bonus tracks.
- Siamese Twin Songs: "Blue Monday" and "The Beach". They are the same track, but "The Beach" alternates sounds and voices throughout the song. Not surprisingly, they were originally released as an A-side and B-side on the same 12" single.
- Take That, Critics!: The final line of "Your Silent Face", "You've caught me at a bad time so why don't you piss off?", was directed to critics who panned the group's first album for a perceived lack of artistic progression beyond their work as Joy Division.
- Textless Album Cover: A reproduction of the painting "A Basket of Roses" by French artist Henri Fantin-Latour. The only thing remotely close to text is the series of colored squares in the upper-right corner, which a decoder on the back cover decrypts as "FACT 75," the record's Factory Records catalog number. Qwest's U.S. CD reissue added the band name and title to the cover, while the label simply tacked a transparent sticker onto the vinyl version, similar to a Pink Floyd album. Incidentally, the colored squares remained unchanged on the Qwest release despite featuring a different serial number there than on Factory (likely because it wouldn't been too much work to alter them).