Of all the old Factory bands, Section 25 are the ones whose critical approval has always eluded me. With their dry Northern vocals and experimental electronic/dance music, the Cassidy brothers struck me as a decent but lower division version of New Order. How delightful then – that 29 years after their debut record – they’ve made an album which I’ve enjoyed from beginning to end.
Sure, it takes a while to get going but ‘Nature + Degree’ is a remarkably fresh-sounding set of songs. Indeed, ‘Remembrance’, ‘Attachment’ and the supremely catchy ‘L’Arte Du Math’ are as pop as Section 25 have ever got. It’s perhaps no coincidence that the former track features our first glimpse of the band’s new secret weapon, Beth Cassidy, who does a more than decent job of fulfilling the vocal role of her late mother Jenny Cassidy; adding a youthfulness which seems to have brought life to the rest of the band.
‘Garageland’ is dignified and melancholic, ‘One Way Or Another’ is three minutes of controlled anger, whilst the rough edges of Larry Cassidy’s tongue are smoothed over by a beautiful string section for ‘Saddled With Something’. ‘Mirror’ is the definite standout for me though; a very unusual and cleverly-constructed song which cleverly mixes Beth Cassidy’s narrative with her own harmonies. Section 25 were hailed for their ground-breaking dance music and this track deserves to be praised in a similar fashion.
After New Order’s hugely disappointing last album, Section 25 have shown it is possible for Factory veterans to create something relevant and addictive for the modern age. Credit to them for making the most unlikely of comebacks.
New Order, The Other Two