Reception and Reviews
Many people consider it the greatest album New Order ever made, with its various changeable moods and songs. Along with the album "Technique" it is enlisted in the "1001 albums you must listen to before you die" books.
A bonus disc was made in 2008 containing songs previously never seen on CD, including the full 17 minute version of Elegia, and for some reason, the remix B-side of State of the Nation's, "Shame of the Nation."
Allmusic gave this review: New Order's third LP, Low-life, was, in every way, the artistic equal of their breakout, 1983's Power, Corruption & Lies. The point where the band's fusion of rock and electronics became seamless, it showed the bandmembers having it every way they wanted: heavily sequenced and synthesized, but with bravura work from Bernard Sumner's guitar and Peter Hook's plaintive, melodic bass; filled with hummable pop songs, but still experimental as far as how the productions were achieved. The melodica-led pop song "Love Vigilantes" was the opener, nearly identical as a standout first track to "Age of Consent" from Power, Corruption & Lies. Next was "The Perfect Kiss," one of the first major New Order singles to appear on an album. (The band being newly signed to Warner Bros. in the United States, it made perfect sense to include such a sublime piece of dance-pop on the LP.) Even as more and more synth-heavy groups like Eurythmics and Pet Shop Boys began approaching New Order's expertise with the proper care of electronics in pop music, the band still sounded like none other. "This Time of Night" and "Elegia" evoked the dark, nocturnal mood of the album's title and artwork, but none could call them mopey when they pushed as hard as they did on "Sunrise." Only "Sub-Culture," tucked in at the end, has the feel of a lost opportunity; remixed for a single release, it became much better. But there was no mistaking that New Order had reached a peak, experimenting with their sound and their style, but keeping every moment wrapped in an unmistakable humanness.
Robert Christgau gave it an B+ with this: Where once they determined to keep all affect out of their music, now they determine to put some in. Any dance-trance outfit that can lead off its Quincy Jones debut with an oblique "Love Me Do" quote has its heart (or a reasonable facsimile thereof) in the right place, so one doesn't want to quibble. But inserting affect isn't the same as actually feeling something, and it isn't the same as expressing (or even simulating) a feeling, either.
The sleeve is band member Stephen Morris, looking downward in a dark pose.
Pumped Full of Drugs
A live documentary of the band playing most of these songs live at Tokyo was taken. For more information, see Pumped Full of Drugs.
2008 Bonus Disc
- The Perfect Kiss (12")
- Sub-Culture (12")
- Shame of the Nation
- Elegia (in full)
- Let's Go
- Salvation Theme
- Bernard Sumner - vocals, synthesisers and programming, melodica, guitars, percussion.
- Peter Hook - bass, electronic percussion.
- Stephen Morris - drums, synthesizers and programming.
- Gillan Gilbert - guitar, main synthesizers and programming.
- Michael Johnson - engineering.
- "Mark", "Penny", and "Tim" - tape operators.