Joy Division - Closer - Review
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critics' view

For my money, there aren’t too many groups who’ve delivered back-to-back classic albums but I’ve filed Joy Division as elitists in this respect. Whilst not quite as stark as its’ predecessor musically, “Closer” retains the desolation, but in a somewhat more beautiful set, wrapped forever in a blanket of sadness. Recorded by the suicidal Ian Curtis in March, he never lived to see its release, having decided to hang himself in the early hours of May 18th,1980, just 2 months before the album was issued. I don’t think I’ve ever once listened to the record without having the ghostly spectre of the troubled front man in my head. Eccentric producer Martin Hannett was at the helm once again – he knew that he had something special on his hands with Ian Curtis, and once described him as “the lightning conductor”. It seems to me the producer consciously set out to frame the vocals first-and-foremost; Peter Hook for one was none-too-chuffed at his bass being so low-down, but it seems fine to me.

The overall sound is a bit bigger, a tad more epic if you will, with signs here and there of a group moving towards a more synthesized, dance-orientated future path. Early doors, “Isolation” would certainly come into this category – hooks, rhythm, melody, lifts – lyrics aside, it has all the hallmarks of the perfect New Wave record, hinting at a future beyond the gloomy shadows of Post-Punk. But those gloomy shadows seem permanently encoded within Joy Division’s DNA, completely at odds with their real-life lad-larks, and almost entirely down to the tortured-soul delivery from the front-man which, as we all now know, wasn’t an act. Suicide note follows suicide note from “A Means To An End” to “Twenty Four Hours” to “The Eternal”. Even the photograph on the cover is of the Appiani family tomb in the Cimitero Monumentale di Staglieno in Genoa, Italy. It was chosen by Ian Curtis; was ever a departure from this mortal coil so artful?

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