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New Order Lowlife Cover.jpg
Cover of UK vinyl issue
Studio album by
Released 13 May 1985
Recorded 1984
Studio Jam and Britannia Row Studios, London
Length 40:05
Label Factory
Producer New Order
New Order chronology
Power, Corruption & Lies
Singles from Low-Life
  1. "The Perfect Kiss"
    Released: 13 May 1985
  2. "Sub-culture"
    Released: 28 October 1985

Low-Life is the third studio album by English rock band New Order, released on 13 May 1985 by Factory Records. It is considered to be among the band's strongest work, displaying the moment they completed their transformation from post-punk hold-overs to dance rockers. The album shows New Order's increased incorporation of synthesisers and samplers, while still preserving the rock elements of their earlier work. The original Factory CD issues of the album were mastered with pre-emphasis.

The songs on this album formed the basis of the band's live concert video Pumped Full of Drugs, filmed in Tokyo shortly before the album's release. The music video for "The Perfect Kiss" was directed by Jonathan Demme.


The album's artwork is the only New Order release to feature photographs of the band members on its cover. The CD comes packaged with drummer/keyboardist Stephen Morris on the front cover, but inside the case are four photographs and a semi-transparent piece of paper with the band's name, allowing the owners to choose which band member is seen through the sleeve.

Singles and re-releases

The album was preceded by the release of the full-length version of "The Perfect Kiss" as a single (only an edited version appears on the album). John Robie's remix of "Sub-culture" was also released as a 12" single. Both of these extended versions eventually were included on 1987's Substance.

In 2008, the album was re-released in a Collector's Edition with a bonus disc, including the previously unreleased 17-minute complete version of "Elegia" and, for the first time in digital format, the unedited 12" mix of "The Perfect Kiss".


Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
AllMusic 4.5/5 stars[4]
The A.V. Club A−[5]
Blender 5/5 stars[6]
Entertainment Weekly A−[7]
Pitchfork 9.0/10[1]
Q 5/5 stars[8]
The Rolling Stone Album Guide 3.5/5 stars[9]
Select 5/5[10]
Uncut 5/5 stars[11]
The Village Voice B+[12]

In a contemporary review of Low-Life for the Los Angeles Times, Richard Cromelin stated that New Order's "varied menu of soul-pop, techno-rock, delicate instrumental moods, and driving, clattering percussion offers adventure in texture at every turn", and that while the album did not contain anything as "transcendent" as "Love Will Tear Us Apart", "its confidence and imagination suggest that the possibility is still there."[13] Robert Christgau of The Village Voice noted New Order's attempt to insert some "affect" into its music and wrote that the band "has its heart (or a reasonable facsimile thereof) in the right place, so one doesn't want to quibble".[12] Despite panning "Love Vigilantes" as "an appallingly naive self-parody", Steve Sutherland of Melody Maker wrote that the remainder of the album "boasts the most articulate sound since The Cocteaus' Treasure, elevating depression to ecstasy".[14]

John Bush of AllMusic wrote that Low-Life was "in every way, the artistic equal" of Power, Corruption & Lies, as well as "the point where the band's fusion of rock and electronics became seamless."[4] The A.V. Club's Josh Modell similarly noted that the album "completely locked the disco influences into sync with New Order's pop leanings."[5] David Quantick, writing in Uncut, felt that Low-Life was "the first New Order album that sounds like an album", with Bernard Sumner's "most human lyrics" complementing Gillian Gilbert and Stephen Morris' "pop axis" and Peter Hook's "breath-taking" bass performances.[11] In 2000, Q magazine placed Low-Life at number 97 in its list of the 100 Greatest British Albums Ever.[15] Low-Life, alongside New Order's 1989 album Technique, was included in the book 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die.[16]

In popular culture

The song "Elegia" was featured in the Academy Award-nominated short film More by Mark Osborne, and was also used in the E3 2015 trailer for the video game Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain and the Netflix series Stranger Things.

Track listing

No. Title Length
1. "Love Vigilantes" 4:16
2. "The Perfect Kiss" 4:51
3. "This Time of Night" 4:45
4. "Sunrise" 6:01
5. "Elegia" 4:56
6. "Sooner Than You Think" 5:12
7. "Sub-culture" 4:58
8. "Face Up" 5:02


New Order
  • New Order – production
  • Michael Johnson – engineering
  • Mark, Penny and Tim – tape operators

Release details


Chart (1985) Peak
Australian ARIA Albums Chart[17] 70
Canadian RPM Albums Chart 26
New Zealand RIANZ Album Chart[18] 11
Swedish Sverigetopplistan[19] 20
UK Albums Chart[20] 7
UK Independent Albums Chart[21] 1
US Billboard 200[22] 94


  1. ^ a b Ewing, Tom (10 November 2008). "New Order: Movement / Power, Corruption and Lies / Low-Life / Brotherhood / Technique [Collector's Editions]". Pitchfork. Retrieved 20 September 2011.
  2. ^ a b Ulyatt, Jonathan (28 September 2014). "Peter Hook & The Light @ Shepherds Bush Empire, London - 27/09/2014". Gigwise. Retrieved 19 July 2015.
  3. ^ "Inventory: 26 Songs that are just as good as short stories". The A.V. Club. 26 March 2007. Retrieved 12 April 2016.
  4. ^ a b Bush, John. "Low-Life – New Order". AllMusic. Retrieved 23 January 2013.
  5. ^ a b Modell, Josh (10 November 2008). "New Order". The A.V. Club. Retrieved 21 August 2015.
  6. ^ Sheffield, Rob (9 December 2008). "Let's Dance". Blender. Archived from the original on 11 January 2013. Retrieved 8 October 2013.
  7. ^ Howe, Sean (7 November 2008). "New Order: Reissues". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved 19 June 2016.
  8. ^ "New Order: Low-Life". Q (84): 97. September 1993.
  9. ^ Gross, Joe (2004). "New Order". In Brackett, Nathan; Hoard, Christian. The New Rolling Stone Album Guide. Simon & Schuster. pp. 582–83. ISBN 0-7432-0169-8.
  10. ^ Harrison, Andrew (August 1993). "Republish". Select (38).
  11. ^ a b Quantick, David (24 September 2008). "New Order – Reissues". Uncut. Retrieved 19 July 2015.
  12. ^ a b Christgau, Robert (24 September 1985). "Christgau's Consumer Guide". The Village Voice. Retrieved 19 July 2015.
  13. ^ Cromelin, Richard (2 June 1985). "New Music Of A High Order On 'Low Life'". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 25 February 2016.
  14. ^ Sutherland, Steve (18 May 1985). "Blood Simple". Melody Maker.
  15. ^ "The 100 Greatest British Albums Ever". Q (165): 61. June 2000.
  16. ^ Dimery, Robert, ed. (2010). 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die: Revised and Updated Edition. Universe. ISBN 0-7893-2074-6.
  17. ^ "Discography New Order". Australian-Charts.com. Retrieved 3 November 2008.
  18. ^ "Discography New Order". Charts.ord.nz. Retrieved 23 February 2011.
  19. ^ "Discography New Order". SwedishCharts.com. Retrieved 20 May 2009.
  20. ^ "Chart Stats: New Order". ChartStats.com. Archived from the original on 25 May 2012. Retrieved 2 October 2008.
  21. ^ "Indie Hits "N"". Cherry Red Records. Archived from the original on 6 June 2011. Retrieved 9 January 2011.
  22. ^ "New Order > Charts & Awards > Billboard Albums". Allmusic. Retrieved 20 May 2009.

External links

  • Low-Life on New Order Online
  • Low-Life on World in Motion
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