Is Joy Division Worth Listening To In 2020? Yes.

If I, at 16 had been told in a just a few years’ time I would have a girlfriend that bought me Joy Division records, I would not have believed a word. Yet here I am, with two Joy Division records as a Christmas present from a beautiful woman, a host of other gifts and cards from friends and family and well on my way to getting a degree in music. To my young self I say “there is a light at the end of this tunnel, the next few years will be the hardest of your life, but through perseverance, hard work and a love of music, you will get through it. Rock and roll is your ally, follow its teachings and most importantly, be nicer to your mum.”

Now that my nostalgia and of course my dramatic flair has been appeased, I’ve got a Joy Division record to review! I know it has been a while, but I’m back in action with a new series of “classic” reviews! And where better to start than Joy Division’s Closer…

Joy Division are one of those bands that have achieved every rockstars dream. To be so famous that the average person haven’t heard them, but they do recognise the t-shirt. Unknown Pleasures, the bands previous record is one of the greatest debut albums of all time, thanks to excellent songwriting, unique style and the expert production of Martin Hannett. So many amazing bands came from Factory Records, Joy Divisions independent label, but Unknown Pleasures is their flagship record, their magnum opus. So how do you follow it up? How do you recreate that magic? I cannot even fathom the pressure they must have been under. But you know something? They did it. Closer is a masterpiece. My favourite tracks have to be Isolation and Heart and Soul. I know everyone bangs on about Colony but for me these tracks beat it pretty easily. Isolation is extremely catchy with Peter Hooks bassline hooking you in (see what I did there? eh? Okay I’ll stop now) and the introduction to Heart and Soul just gets my blood pumping! Martin Hannett is once again producing and honestly if it wasn’t for his style of production I don’t think anyone would know the name Joy Division, let alone recognise any t-shirts!

To sum up you can certainly tell the difference from Unknown Pleasures. Closer is noticeably more synth driven, and you can see the bridge between Joy Division’s punk roots and what would eventually become New Order following the death of Ian Curtis. Speaking of Ian Curtis. A legendary figure in post punk. Iconic voice and infamous dance moves. I love his music, and while his suicide and struggle with depression and epilepsy is a very sad story. Things I have heard (though sources are questionable) about the way he behaved, particularly towards his wife make me question the scenes idolisation of the man. Still, as one of my hero’s Henry Rollins once said “when they finally write the true book of rock and roll, when all the dust settles, at the top of the mountain, alongside the David Bowie’s and the Rolling Stones, there will be Joy Division.”

Peace, Love and Cowbells,


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