Ranked 157/500 on Rolling Stone Magazine's 500 Greatest Albums of All Time.
Formed in 1977, Joy Division (guitarist Bernard Albrecht, bassist Peter Hook, drummer Stephen Morris, and vocalist Ian Curtis) helped usher in the Post-Punk movement with their haunting melodies and melancholy lyrics. By incorporating synthesizers into their music, they paved the way for an entire generation of bands who would soon follow in their footsteps. The band released two classic albums, 1979s Unknown Pleasures and 1980s Closer as well as several singles, before Curtis suicide on the eve of their first American tour. Following Curtis death, Albrecht (now Sumner), Hook, and Morris formed the band New Order, and would continue to record over the next twenty-five years.
If Unknown Pleasures was Joy Division at their most obsessively, carefully focused, ten songs yet of a piece, Closer was the sprawl, the chaotic explosion that went every direction at once. Who knows what the next path would have been had Curtis not chosen his end? But steer away from the rereading of his every lyric after that date, treat Closer as what everyone else thought it was at first simply the next album and Joy Division's power just seems to have grown. Hannett was still producing, but seems to have taken as many chances as the band itself throughout differing mixes, differing atmospheres, new twists and turns define the entirety of Closer, songs suddenly returned in chopped-up, crumpled form, ending on hiss and random notes. Opener Atrocity Exhibition was arguably the most fractured thing the band had yet recorded, Sumner's teethgrinding guitar and Morris' Can-on-speed drumming making for one heck of a strange start. Keyboards also took the fore more so than ever the drowned pianos underpinning Curtis' shadowy moan on The Eternal, the squirrelly lead synth on the energetic but scared-out-of-its-wits Isolation, and above all else Decades, the album ender of album enders. A long, slow crawl down and out, Curtis' portrait of lost youth inevitably applied to himself soon after, its sepulchral string-synths are practically a requiem.
Songs like Heart and Soul and especially the jaw-dropping, wrenching Twenty Four Hours, as perfect a demonstration of the tension/release or soft/loud approach as will ever be heard, simply intensify the experience. Joy Division was at the height of their powers on Closer, equaling and arguably bettering the astonishing Unknown Pleasures, that's how accomplished the four members were. Rock, however defined, rarely seems and sounds so important, so vital, and so impossible to resist or ignore as here.
LP Track Listing:
1. Atrocity Exhibition
5. A Means To An End
6. Heart & Soul
7. Twenty Four Hours
8. The Eternal