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both the smiths and new order remain unique and innovative bands. so too does electronic. but because of the considerable reputations of their parent groups they’ve often been critically undervalued and rarely accepted as an individual musical force. from the outset electronic occupied a unique ground in pop: they could be dismissed through disdain for their other bands, yet conversely ignored by smiths and new order devotees who thought they could never reach comparable heights.
given the fact that marr and sumner’s initial intention to release white label records as some kind of anonymous dance act soon dissipated with the rapid success of getting away with it, it’s ironic that they’re now not more widely known. they could easily turn their hand to clean, pure electro (lucky bag, reality), but the challenge of combining accessible songwriting with inventive production obviously proved irresistible — perhaps even inevitable.
electronic made music for the sake of it; it’s their lack of pretention that sets them apart. they’d already achieved their youthful goals with the smiths and new order, yet were only 26 and 34 when they got down to writing the album of their lifetime in early 1990. they retained that sense of creative ambition and quality control, but shed the aesthetics and mythology which so characterised their earlier bands… fairly unfashionable, but completely cool.
it was always about the songs. electronic can’t be measured or judged by anything other than the records they put out; their fanbase isn’t recognisible, their name is forgettable, they changed their sound on every album. ask any electronic disciple what their favourite song is, or what they regard as their best album, and you’ll get a different answer every time. beauty is in the ear of the beholder, basically, but electronic is for anyone with patience, positivity, and idealism. anyone who wants to ‘shelter from the bullshit’.