Republic is the sixth studio album by English Alternative Dance group New Order. Released in 1993, four years after the massively acclaimed Technique, the album was the band's first not to be released on Factory Records, who had declared bankruptcy the previous year following the massive failure of Happy Mondays' Yes Please! and the band's own delay in following up Technique. Rather, the album was released through London Records (best known for being the original American distributors for The Rolling Stones), who had previously attempted to buy out Factory before backing away from the deal once it was made apparent that none of Factory's artists were actually signed onto them (meaning that the artists, not the label, were the legal owners of their releases). New Order would continue releasing music through London Records up until 2007.
The financial situation regarding Factory heavily informed the album's production. Pressured into putting out another blockbuster that could save the label in the wake of Happy Mondays bleeding them out to continue funding Yes Please!, New Order chose to co-produce the album with Stephen Hague, by then a proven hitmaker best known for producing not only fellow British pop successes Pet Shop Boys and Erasure, but also the band's own US Breakthrough Hit "True Faith" and sole UK No. 1 "World in Motion..." Thus, Republic ended up breaking a streak of New Order's studio albums being entirely self-produced, featuring an outside producer for the first time since Movement all the way back in 1981 (the band had worked with outside producers for non-album material in the past, but not for their actual studio albums between 1983 and 1989). New Order's relationship with Factory had already gone sour by the time Technique entered production, and with this album being strong-armed out of them for a company they now openly despised, the band's attitude towards production became increasingly apathetic.
At the same time, the band saw Creative Differences between Bernard Sumner and Peter Hook reach a tipping point: Sumner had constantly pushed for New Order to go in a more electronic direction, while Hook was adamant about keeping the group a rock band. These differences had previously informed the Distinct Single Album approach to Brotherhood in which one side was guitar-driven and the other synth-driven, but their dislike of the final result there and consequent attempt to keep the direction of Republic consistent made it far more difficult for Sumner and Hook to reconcile their radically different preferences for the bad's music. Combined with the pressure from Factory to deliver another hit, the animosity between Sumner and Hook dragged out the album to the point where Factory could no longer rely on them anymore, leading to the failed London Records bid that ultimately caused the Manchester indie label to declare bankruptcy. In hindsight, it's widely agreed that the band's delays in finishing Republic were as much of a factor in Factory's death as Yes Please! was, as it left Factory without a financial safety net in the wake of Happy Mondays' gigantic Creator Killer.
The vitriol that existed between Sumner and Hook continued to make things difficult for the band while promoting Republic, which resulted in them feeling burned out after a lengthy U.S. tour. Consequently, New Order announced that they would be going on hiatus, with the band's members returning to focusing on their various side projects. Bernard Sumner's Electronic, Peter Hook's Revenge, and Stephen Morris and Gillian Gilbert's the Other Two all resumed activity during this pause in work as New Order; Electronic and the Other Two also released the remainder of their studio output over the course of the 90's as well. New Order would eventually reform in 1998, and would put out their next album, Get Ready, three years later, thus making Republic not only the band's sole 90's album, but also their last record to be released during the 20th century. To this day, the members of New Order look back on Republic poorly as a result of the strenuous circumstances behind its production.
Republic was also the band's final studio album to be released in the U.S. through the Warner (Bros.) Records-backed Qwest Records label, which would end up shutting down in 2000. By the time it resumed operations in 2010, New Order had already moved onto using Warner Bros' Rhino Records label to reissue their older material, and were in the middle of a second hiatus, meaning Qwest wouldn't have anything new to release anyways. The revived Qwest being distributed by Interscope Records, a Universal Music Group subsidiary, instead of by Warner Music Group also likely put a damper on things. It was still not the band's final release on the label overall: Qwest released a reworked version of (the best of) NewOrder in 1995, changing up some of the track listing due to perceived overlaps with Substance, as well as a CD reissue of "Bizarre Love Triangle" and a promotional release of "Let's Go (Nothing For Me)" (a re-recording of a track the band contributed to the Salvation! soundtrack), both put out to promote the compilation. The deal with London, meanwhile, meant that Warner now distributed the band's music on both sides of The Pond.
Four singles were released off of Republic: in order, they are "Regret", "Ruined in a Day", "World (The Price of Love)", and "Spooky".
In spite of the environment it was created in, Republic was another commercial success for New Order, topping the U.K. Albums chart and securing a Mercury Prize nomination; the album would later go on to become the 47th best selling album of 1993 in the U.K. and be certified gold in the U.K., the U.S., and Canada. "Regret" was also the band's last top-five hit in the U.K. and their highest-charting single in the U.S., reaching number 28 on the Top 100. Even though grunge was in full swing in the U.S., the song reached number one on the Billboard Modern Rock chart; the fact that New Order sounded distinctly different from the kinds of Synth-Pop bands that grunge usurped probably helped, as did New Order's status as one of the first popular bands to be labeled Alternative Rock. It's likely the same reason that other '80s alternative acts like Depeche Mode and The Cure were able to maintain their popularity around the same time, though unlike those bands New Order didn't need to incorporate grunge influences into their sound (at least not until the 2000's); also helping was the fact that their previous incarnation, Joy Division, was a major influence on grunge.
Republic was also New Order's highest-charting album stateside, reaching number 11 on the Top 200. It's widely agreed upon that had the album come out a year— even half a year— earlier, its success would've allowed Factory to stay afloat for at least a little while longer. Republic was also the last New Order album to be certified gold in the U.S. Republic is remembered fondly by fans, though in hindsight they see it as being the point where New Order became a very different band sound-wise compared to their prior work, though it wouldn't be the first time that happened.
- "Regret" (4:08)
- "World" (4:44)
- "Ruined in a Day" (4:22)
- "Spooky" (4:43)
- "Everyone Everywhere" (4:24)
- "Young Offender" (4:48)
- "Liar" (4:21)
- "Chemical" (4:10)
- "Times Change" (3:52)
- "Special" (4:51)
- "Avalanche" (3:14)
- Bernard Sumner vocals, guitars, synthesizers and programming
- Peter Hook 4 and 6-stringed bass, synthesizers and programming, backing vocals
- Stephen Morris drums, synthesizers and programming
- Gillian Gilbert synthesizers, guitars and programming; vocals on "Avalanche"
"I turn sideways to the sun, keep my tropes from everyone":
- Anti-Love Song: Present on most of the tracks. Notably averted with "Regret", which is an uptempo love song with no major catches.
- Babies Ever After: How the music video for "Spooky" ends.
- Bread, Eggs, Milk, Squick: The album art juxtaposes jovial and/or neutral imagery of beachgoers, cityscapes, fast cars, and bubbles (among other photos) with two scenes of burning penthouses and the rubble from an earthquake. As the album art is meant to be evocative of Peter Saville's experiences and perceptions of his new home in the perpetually summery southern California (specifically Los Angeles), which sits on a major fault line, is prone to frequent wildfires, and witnessed the Los Angeles riots the year prior, it fits pretty well.
- B-Side: "Vicious Circle", included on some releases of "Ruined in a Day". Alongside "Let's Go (Nothing for Me)", it was one of the only two proper B-sides put out by the band in the 1990's, with other singles only including alternate mixes of the A-sides as additional tracks, marking the start of a shift away from traditional B-sides that would solidify over a decade later.
- BrotherSister Incest: The subject of "Everyone Everywhere".
- Call-Back: "Ruined in a Day" features the same sampled sheep bleats previously heard in the outros to both the 12" version of "The Perfect Kiss" from Low-Life and "Fine Time" from Technique.
- CamelCase: Used to write out New Order's name on print material associated with the album (including the album's back cover and spine) when not otherwise using all-caps. This would carry over to the Greatest Hits Album (the best of) NewOrder, the Remix Album (the rest of) NewOrder, and the singles released for them.
- Creator Cameo: The band members appear as background characters in the first half of the video for "World (The Price of Love)". Specifically, in order, Peter Hook is lounging in a bathrobe by the dock, Bernard Sumner overlooks a railing to briefly lip-sync to the song, and both Stephen Morris and Gillian Gilbert are getting their picture taken just outside the hotel. This would be the last time the band ever appeared in one of their music videos until "Jetstream" in 2005, and consequently it's the last music video to visually depict the original lineup.
- Deliberately Monochrome: The music videos for "World (The Price of Love)" and "Spooky" (though the latter includes a few color portions of location footage).
- Design Student's Orgasm: An elaborate collage by longtime collaborator Peter Saville, featuring numerous digitally edited stock photos based around California (to which he had relocated; he would return to London not too long after, though). The collage is featured in full on the CD release's insert, with only a small portion included on the LP version.
- Fun with Subtitles: At the end of the "Ruined in a Day" video, the subtitle "Hmmm..." appears over the closing shot of a pursed-lipped statue for no reason other than it being a humorous juxtaposition.
- GIS Syndrome: The cover art for the album and the associated singles are composed entirely of stock images meshed together in Photoshop. According to cover designer Peter Saville, the use of stock images was meant to give Republic a facetiously commercial atmosphere, designing its visual style to resemble a contemporary advertising brochure or tourism pamphlet.
- Idiosyncratic Cover Art: The various singles released for Republic feature similar collages of stock images stitched together in Photoshop, nodding back to the album cover.
- In the Style of...: "Times Change" is a noticeable Pet Shop Boys pastiche.
- Limited Lyrics Song: "Avalanche" simply consists of the word "faith" being repeated over and over again.
- Lyrical Dissonance: As to be expected with New Order.
- New Sound Album: Though the sound of the album is not too dissimilar from that of Technique, it conspicuously trades in its Madchester elements for 90's house music (up to and including the latter genre's distinctive electric piano sound). The rockist elements present from Movement to Brotherhood also make a brief reappearance on the opening track, foreshadowing the guitar-driven sound that New Order would utilize from 2001 to 2013. In both cases, the shift in style seems to be not just the result of changing trends, but also Bernard Sumner bringing in stylistic elements from his side-project Electronic; tellingly, Republic released just two years after Electronic's debut Self-Titled Album.
- Non-Appearing Title: Played straight most of the time, with the exceptions of "Regret", "Ruined in a Day", "Young Offender", and "Special". Played with in the case of "World", which is given the parenthetical subtitle "The Price of Love" (after a phrase repeated throughout the chorus) on the single release.
- Non-Indicative Name: The narrator of "Regret" has nothing to feel regretful about. In fact, things are certainly the opposite.
- The Oner: The music video for "World (The Price of Love)" consists of four steadicam sequences through the InterContinental Carlton Cannes Hotel in Cannes, stitched together to seem like two lengthy tracking shots, with the only cut being from the hotel stairway to the upper floor.
- Orange/Blue Contrast: Featured prominently on the album cover, between the orange flames in the burning house photo on the left and the bright blue sky in the beach photo on the right, as well as between the blue sky and orange inner tube in the beach photo. One version of the Limited Run release also came with metallic blue text on a solid orange background.
- Parlor Games: The video for "Ruined in a Day" consists of the band playing charades— badly— with a group of Buddhist monks.
- Sell-Out: Played for laughs as a motif for the album: the cover art for it and its singles feature stock images edited together to look like advertisements, copyright symbols suffix nearly every associated release's title, every one of said releases is dubbed "a NewOrder release" as if they were products in a fashion line, and the music itself sounds like a sarcastic pastiche of the same commercially friendly music that wouldn't be out of place in a TV or radio advertisement from the time. Overall it gives the whole album an atmosphere of mock-commercialism and lends a self-aware aspect to New Order's own success.
- Silly Love Songs: "Regret", a rarity for New Order's oeuvre.
- Shout-Out: The drums in the intro to "Ruined in a Day" are inspired by Ennio Morricone's theme for The Good, the Bad and the Ugly.
- Slasher Smile: The characters in the music video for "Spooky" near-constantly sport these.
- Special Guest: David Hasselhoff for the Top of the Pops performance of "Regret", thanks to it being a tie-in with Baywatch; the performance was later featured in an episode of the latter series.
- Spell My Name with an "S": The album and associated singles stylize New Order's name as a single word, often in CamelCase (i.e. "NewOrder").
- Step Up to the Microphone: Gillian Gilbert provides vocals for "Avalanche", one of few occasions in New Order's discography where she has any vocal duties.
- Surreal Horror: The music video for "Spooky" indulges in this, featuring a variety of undercranked shots of Slasher Smile-sporting characters tormenting each other, carrying out a wicked wedding, and generally looking creepy and doing nonsensical things to themselves and each other.
- Surreal Music Video: "Spooky", a speedy mishmash of Surreal Horror vignettes and fly-on-the-wall location shots. There's a loose subplot featuring two of the video's characters getting married and having children, but that's about it in the way of a cohesive plotline.
- Take That!: Multiple songs carry a distinctly bitter tone of voice indicative of the band's less-than-favorable views of the folks at Factory Records, with whom they fell out in the late 80's; "Ruined in a Day" and "Liar" are where this is most apparent.
- Trade Snark: Tying in with the mock-commercial feel of the album, the title logotypes for both it and its associated singles are all suffixed with a copyright symbol (e.g. Republic©, "Regret©", etc). Strangely though, the single release of "Spooky" doesn't conform to the trend, and the copyright symbols are generally not regarded as part of the official titles.
- Undercrank: Used throughout the music video for "Spooky" to achieve a distinctly fast-paced, jittery look that compliments the Oingo Boingo-esque Surreal Horror visuals.