Technique is the fifth studio album by New Order, released in 1989. The album is an even more radical departure from New Order's signature sound compared to Brotherhood, incorporating heavy use of Balearic beat and acid house influences (inspired by the band's experiences during initial recording sessions in Ibiza) and overall bringing New Order into the Madchester dance scene full-force. Consequently, it also cemented New Order's image as an electronic band, following Brotherhood's conceptual war between the guitar and synthesizer sides of their music. Despite this, a number of guitar-driven tracks still feature on Technique, with songs like "All the Way", "Love Less", and "Run" showing that the band hadn't completely abandoned their rock roots.
Three singles were released off of Technique: "Fine Time", "Round & Round", and "Run 2". The 12" release of "Round & Round" is an extended version of the song, while "Run 2" is a rearranged version of the album track "Run" featuring sparser production and an altered guitar part. The latter received a music video directed by photographer Robert Frank. Notably, New Order ended up in a bit of legal hot water over "Run" and "Run 2"; the publishing company of John Denver filed a lawsuit arguing that the guitar part in the tracks were plagiarized from the Denver-penned song "Leaving on a Jet Plane". New Order ended up losing the suit, and as a result, later reissues of Technique and other releases containing "Run" and/or "Run 2" add in a writing credit for Denver. On a more trivial note, this album was the first of New Order's to make use of the increasingly popular CD single format during promotion; while the band had previously made use of the format for "Touched by the Hand of God" and a US promotional release of "True Faith" in 1987, this marked the first time they did so to promote a proper studio album, and marked the point where they fully embraced the CD single. That said, they still made considerable use of the 7" and 12" formats while promoting Technique, and would continue to do so in conjunction with CD single releases up to the promotional campaign for their most recent album, 2015's Music Complete.
Upon release, Technique was a critical and commercial success, topping both the U.K. Albums and U.K. Independent Albums charts and peaking at No. 32 on the Billboard 200. Though not their highest-selling or most widely-acclaimed album (being bested by the compilation album Substance from two years prior), among their proper studio discography it is widely considered by fans and critics to be New Order's greatest work. It was their first regular studio album to achieve gold-selling status in the U.S. (sales of at least 500,000 copies), in addition to going gold in the U.K., Canada, and Brazil. Conversely, it's also one of New Order's least represented albums, with the band having never performed any of its songs live since the early 1990's (save for band favorite "Vanishing Point", which was briefly brought back in 2017).
Technique was New Order's last album to be released through Factory Records, with whom the band had worked since their days as Joy Division in 1979; the record label would declare bankruptcy in 1992, following financial hardships caused by both labelmates Happy Mondays blowing all of Factory's money during the chaotic recording of Yes Please! and New Order themselves taking far too long to complete their follow-up to Technique, Republic, which only released the year after Factory's collapse. However, Technique was not New Order's last release on the label overall— that title goes to "World in Motion", their 1990 single for the World Cup. The individual members of New Order would also continue to release material on Factory between 1989 and 1992 via various side projects, with Bernard Sumner's Electronic, Peter Hook's Revenge, and Stephen Morris & Gillian Gilbert's the Other Two all releasing singles and— in the former two groups' case— albums during this period.
- "Fine Time" (4:42)
- "All the Way" (3:22)
- "Love Less" (2:58)
- "Round & Round" (4:29)
- "Guilty Partner" (4:44)
- "Run" (4:29)
- "Mr. Disco" (4:20)
- "Vanishing Point" (5:15)
- "Dream Attack" (5:13)
- Bernard Sumner vocals, guitars, melodica, synthesizers and programming
- Peter Hook 4 and 6-stringed bass, electronic percussion, synthesizers and programming
- Stephen Morris drums, synthesizers and programming
- Gillian Gilbert synthesizers, guitars and programming
"The picture you see is no portrait of me/It's too real to be shown to some trope I don't know":
- Album Title Drop: The phrase "you've got love technique" appears in "Fine Time".
- Anti-Love Song: The vast majority of the album is this, with the possible exceptions of "Fine Time" and "Vanishing Point". One song on the album is outright called "Love Less".
- Artistic Stimulation: The album was recorded under the influence of ecstasy, and it shows.
- Bestiality Is Depraved: One possible interpretation of "Fine Time", which features seductive lyrics seemingly addressing a girl, but ends with the distant sound of bleating sheep.
- Brief Accent Imitation: Bernard Sumner's pronunciation of "Ibiza" on "Mr. Disco" matches how the island's name is actually pronounced in the European Spanish accent and dialect, right down to the lisp on the "z."
- Call-Back: "Fine Time" has a sample of a bleating sheep, similar to the sampled frog croaks on "The Perfect Kiss"
- Broken Record: A sampled, processed recording of a voice uttering "the past doesn't matter" is repeated for quite a long time during the middle of "Fine Time".
- Changed for the Video: The video for "Round & Round" uses a different mix than the album version.
- Color Motif: Purple, brown, and white.
- Deliberately Monochrome: The video for "Round and Round" intercuts black-and-white footage of models with color flash frames of things like flowers, marbles and milk being spilled.
- Design Student's Orgasm: One of the few Peter Saville album covers that qualifies for this trope, owing to its downright lavish use of color.
- Exactly What It Says on the Tin: "Mr. Disco", a song that takes considerable influence from disco music; the influences aren't immediately noticeable, but are difficult to ignore once they are spotted. In particular, the synthesizer "pew pew" noises between the first chorus and second verse were very much commonplace in the more electronic-driven, Giorgio Moroder-influenced sound of late-era disco.
- Gratuitous Panning: Just after the vocals kick in on "Fine Time", a series of sampled moans repeatedly fire at machine-gun rate, rapidly alternating between the left and right channels.
- In the Style of...: Bernard Sumner's pitch-altered lyrics on "Fine Time" are an obvious pastiche of Barry White's vocal style.
- Lyrical Dissonance: The usual at this point, with the broad majority of the songs being much more upbeat than their lyrics would imply. "Love Less" is a particularly noticeable example, featuring an instrumental part that sounds like it came from a standard love song and lyrics that tell exactly the opposite.
- Minimalistic Cover Art: A color-inverted photograph of a cherub statue against a pink and purple gradient background; the inner LP sleeve and CD insert feature palette swaps of the photograph. The statue motif is also carried into the artwork for the single "Round & Round", which features a similar negative-color photo of an adult male statue against a red background on 7" releases and a blue one on 12" releases.
- New Sound Album: Madchester with acid house and Baeleric beat influences. The album also makes much greater use of digital samplers than before, most notably with the heavy use of the Emulator II on "Fine Time".
- Non-Appearing Title: As per the norm with New Order.
- One-Word Title: Technique, "Run".
- Out-of-Genre Experience: Even by the standards of what is very much a huge New Sound Album for New Order, "Fine Time" is far different than anything else the band ever put out, being an outright acid house track.
- Perfectly Cromulent Word: "All the Way" features the line "parasites and literasites, they'd burn me if they can," with "literasites" being a completely nonexistent word simply made up to provide a rhyme. Notably, this caused a bit of confusion among listeners who believed that "literasites" was an actual word they had never heard of.
- Rearrange the Song: "Run" was released as a single in the form of "Run 2", a more radio-friendly arrangement produced by R.E.M. collaborator Scott Litt.
- Spoken Word in Music:
- The majority of the vocal part on "Fine Time" consists of Bernard Sumner reciting a series of pickup lines to an unspecified target, pitched down to mimic Barry White.
- "Mr. Disco" ends with Sumner whispering "Ibiza, Majorca, and Benidorm too, I searched all these places, but never found you," tying in with the song's lyrical content detailing a one-night stand that the narrator now longs for as a committed partner.
- Take That!: "Round & Round" is one to Factory Records head Tony Wilson; tensions between Wilson and New Order had been developing for a number of years prior to the song's composition. The band would continue levying jabs against Wilson on their next album, Republic.
- Textless Album Cover: As is to be expected when you have Peter Saville design your album art.
- Whole Plot Reference: "Vanishing Point" is one to Whistle Down the Wind, to the point where the song namedrops the film in its outro.