Eight years after releasing Waiting for the Sirens' Call (2005), their eighth studio album, New Order return with Lost Sirens. Except it's not really a new album at all - at least not in the conventional sense.
Conceived as an almost instant follow-up to Sirens' Call – the band were in a rich vein of songwriting form back then – its release was delayed first by bassist Peter Hook's decision to leave the band in 2007 and then by the rancour that accompanied his departure.
Romantics keep their fingers crossed for Hook to one day return to the fold - even though the band functions perfectly well without him - but will have to settle for this short swan song, which, fittingly, serves up lashings of his trademark basslines.
That said, if the Manchester band's almost mythic and always turbulent story provides any measure, then any outcome really is still possible: New Order looked mortally wounded in the 1990s after the release of the occasionally epic Republic (1993) and following the demise of Factory Records - the anarchic independent record label they were signed to and which they propped up financially for years - before staging an energetic comeback with Get Ready (2001).
Belatedly then, Lost Sirens gathers seven previously unreleased tracks, all originally recorded in 2003 and 2004, and adds them to Hellbent, which was first given an airing on the greatest-hits compilation Total (2011).
So what does it add to the New Order story? More than you'd imagine. The many completists who slavishly follow the band will rush to buy it, of course, but there is something here too for the fairweather fan of this influential English group.
It opens with I'll Stay With You, a delicious blend of guitars and synth, on which Sumner could be singing about the band's deep schisms ("Were his words cruel?", he asks, "Were they unkind?, That guy's a fool, He's crossed the line"). Sugarcane, its second track, sounds more suited to either Electronic or Bad Lieutenant, the side projects that kept Sumner busy in New Order's long fallow periods.
Recoil springs the album back into life, before Californian Grass, Lost Sirens' fourth track, delivers an almost perfect fusion of the band's many talents. Hellbent follows, presenting a hotchpotch of styles - twangy guitars, plaintive keyboards, jangling backbeats - without ever feeling properly resolved. The hopeful sound of Shake It Up restores the album to a solid footing, before I've Got a Feeling trails the restlessness that regularly bubbles away in Sumner's lyrical meanderings.
New Order have made a habit of providing a stirring finale to their albums and Lost Sirens is no exception: I Told You So, its closing track, begins with some Velvet Underground-influenced guitars and keeps moving on from there, providing a rousing conclusion to this largely satisfying mini-album from the vaults.