It’s been a hell of a last few days fighting a seemingly endless and remarkably defiant ant infestation, so I’ll keep today’s post more straightforward than most. White vinegar, by the way. That’s the magic bullet, thus far.
Today’s entry features early ’90s alternative “supergroup” Electronic, founded by New Order’s frontman Bernard Sumner and The Smith’s enigmatic guitarist Johnny Marr, and their breezy dance single “Getting Away With It.”
You might recognize Electronic for their brief cameo in Monday’s lengthy reminiscence of New Order, when I was referencing associated side projects. The duo, with the often assist from Pet Shop Boys’ Neil Tennant and Chris Lowe, ran from 1988 to 2001, had three albums, and at least one major tour I know of. I caught them as openers for Depeche Mode’s “World Violation” tour at a sold-out Dodger Stadium in August of 1990, where they debuted much of their yet-to-be released eponymously titled album.
I don’t recall much from that show. Although, I’m pretty sure I was super excited to see all these iconic musicians come together in collaboration – never mind witnessing Depeche Mode headline one the biggest shows in their massive juggernaut career. But that’s another story for another post.
At the time, “Getting Away With It” was the only song they’d released. It owed quite a bit to New Order’s synth-rock sensibilities, minus Hook’s signature basslines. Marr’s contribution seemed far more upbeat than anything he’d done with The Smiths. And Sumner’s and Tennant’s vocals felt of a shared mind, complementary and complete.
Perhaps, after all these years, some of what transpired in those early Electronic efforts inspired the union of New Order and Pet Shop Boys to tour together for their “Unity” tour. As I mentioned in Mondays entry, they planned for the Hollywood Bowl this upcoming October. But for reasons all too familiar, and ultimately depressing, the show’s been postponed to the fall of 2021.
A little bit of backstory …
Sumner embarked on this side project, two years after “Brotherhood” and a year prior to “Technique,” looking to fill the gaps between New Order records through further integration of synth programming and sequenced rhythms. Apparently, back then, his bandmates weren’t entirely receptive to the idea of going more electronic, so Sumner called longtime friend Marr, and the on-the-nose collaboration dubbed Electronic was born.
Curiously, “Getting Away With It” feels like it could’ve been on that latter album “Technique,” or at the very least, served as a foundation for its euro-synth sound. It’s a far ray brighter than much of what New Order had accomplished up to this point, probably owing a debt to Tennant and Lowe’s contributions. It’s almost Balearic in its dance inclinations, warm and buoyant, with a touch of summer house and carefree pop. And ultimately, it’s pleasures resided in its simplicity and ease.
Check out “Getting Away With It,” with and without visual accompaniment.
“Getting Away With It” from the 1991 eponymously titled debut album “Electronic.”
I should probably leave it at that, since my aforementioned ant problem isn’t a 100% resolved, and I’ve got some follow-up vinegaring to be sprayed throughout the homestead. But before I do, I’ve been reacquainting myself with the full breadth of Electronic’s debut album. There’s a couple of additional rays of brilliant sunshine synths and Marr’s guitars worth singling out, namely the jangle-strum of “Get the Message” and the Mancunian rhythm shuffle of “Feel Every Beat.”
They were both released as singles, and I might add, a year after “Getting Away With It.” So they’ve had time to percolate and coagulate into a more realized some of its parts. In other words, Electronic was becoming its own individualized thing.
Of course, there’s no getting around Sumner’s vocals sounding like New Order, because that’s literally his voice and his band. But musically, steps were being taken off the beaten path, exploratory yet familiar, distanced yet reverential – or at the very least, as much as Sumner, Marr, and collaborators Tennant and Lowe were able to do so. And that’s also Sumner’s impetus to begin with – to explore untried techniques and tangential styles.
Anyway, you be the judge. Here’s “Get the Message” and “Feel Every Beat,” two pop gems from the past, also with and without music video. And wow, they look so young.
“Get the Message” from the 1991 eponymously titled debut album “Electronic.”
“Feel Every Beat” from the 1991 eponymously titled debut album “Electronic..
Bernard Sumner (New Order):
Neil Tennant/Chris Lowe (Pet Shop Boys):