Monday, October 29, 2012

157 Closer. Lets dance to Joy Division

Album: Closer
Artist: Joy Division
Genre: Rock
Year: 1980

  1. Atrocity Exhibition
  2. Isolation
  3. Passover
  4. Colony
  5. A Means to an End
  6. Heart and Soul
  7. Twenty Four Hours
  8. The Eternal
  9. Decades

Death is an outstanding career move (at least for musicians and artists. Kicking the bucket isn't really going to do much for your professional life if you work in a bank). Whitney Houston had the biggest sales of her career not long after her death; John Lennon's place as the best Beatle was secured when he died in 1980 and countless other musicians have been given an extra air of mystique thanks to their untimely demise. Freddy Mercury has achieved a cult like level of popularity but imagine how his career would have gone if he was still around today with a wider waistband but smaller vocal range and less hair. Can you imagine how much adoration people would feel for Kurt Cobain if he was judging American Idol?

There's no doubt Ian Curtis did Joy Division a big favour by becoming not just an ex-member of the band but an ex-member of the human race due to his suicide a few weeks before the release of Closer. Posthumous might be hard to spell and frequently mispronounced but that doesn't mean it doesn't do outstanding things for your career. The publicity generated by the lead singer's suicide pushed the album into the spotlight in a way it could never have been if Curtis was around to give interviews. 

It didn't hurt that Closer sounds like music recorded by people who are seriously considering topping themselves as soon as the session finishes. If Closer had been full of upbeat sounds and songs about just how great flowers and butterflies are it would have made for an awkward listen in light of the lead singer's demise at his own hand. But Joy Division's final album is a dark and doom-laden affair with Curtis singing as if the recording process was something he had to endure before he was free to end it all. 

Joy Division are widely lauded and praised in the music press and Closer is held up as their ultimate masterpiece. It's their high water mark and I find it impossible to appreciate in any way. Doom-laden and tedious with a dollop of self-importance is how I'd classify it. Not at all what Les Paul had in mind when he electrified the guitar and revolutionised our lives. Dull, plodding and monotonous. 

There are thousands who would disagree with me but how many of those have got caught up in the romantic notion of the death of Ian Curtis rather than looking at the album on it's own merits? I'm not trying to claim the only reason to appreciate Closer is self delusion but I can't help but wonder how many people have elevated it above the status it deserves because of the associated story? 

I'm not sure what reaction the members of Joy Division were trying to inspire in their listeners when they released this album but I know I'm not feeling it at all.

Influenced by: Unhappiness
Influenced: Further Unhappiness

Highlight: Heart and Soul
Lowlight: Passover

Favourite Amazon Customer Review Quote: "Wot are ye talkin all this crap for 'moan tae, mind?, ouer Joy Division Closer is on the same vein o' Hibernian McClintock legacy of warrior poets inish as James Joyce Ulysses ya Fenian skunks!"

- I have no idea what any of that actually means but I love reading it out loud.

So is does this album make you closer to Joy Division or not? Let me know below.


  1. It's a really good Halloween album.

    1. I hadn't thought of it like that.