My Top 1000 Songs #210: Your Silent Face

I've never been much of a synth guy; for me, rock & roll is largely about, as the Young Fresh Fellows succinctly put it, Two Guitars Bass And Drums.

Oh, sure, some well-deployed synth in an otherwise traditional rock song like "Baba O'Riley" could keep things interesting, and of course there's my unhealthy enjoyment of prog. And I liked the synth-heavy new wave songs that populated my high school-era playlists, stuff like Yaz and Depeche Mode and Flock of Seagulls and OMD.

But it was New Order that really broke down my resistance. Discovering "Tempation" was a huge revelation when I got to college. But "Your Silent Face" in particular, off 1983's Power, Corruption & Lies, is all about the keyboards, an orgy of spine-tingling sound that just washes over you, nary a guitar to be found--truly beautiful melodies enveloped in a palpable glow. Not much to the song by way of lyrics, but what's there is as striking as anything from Joy Division, and thoroughly cuts to the quick--"You've caught me at a bad time; so why don't you piss off?" has always seemed like the ultimate backhand, yet sung with such matter-of-fact understatement by Bernard Sumner that you have to smile.

Still, it's those epic layers of keyboards, filling every nook and cranny of space, that completely mesmerize me.

It's the consummate studio creation, but here's a terrific live version from 2008: