Joy Division only recorded two full studio albums before frontman Ian Curtis’ suicide in 1980. Closer was the second, and arguably strongest, of those two albums. A post-punk outfit from Manchester, England, the band’s music was informed as much by the aggression of punk and the avant-garde scene of The Velvet Underground, as they were by the electronica of Kraftwerk or the chaotic life of Ian Curtis, possibly a direct result of his ongoing struggle with epilepsy and uncontrollable seizures. An informed, literary lyricist (Curtis wrote all of Joy Division’s lyrics), his songs often dealt with death, isolation, loss of control.
While the album does not contain the popular “Love Will Tear Us Apart”, a separate single released just ahead of the release of Closer, it does contain its own share of beautifully stark songs that define the best of Joy Division, such as the percussive opener “Atrocity Exhibition”, where Curtis sings in his signature baritone “Asylums with doors open wide/Where people had paid to see inside/For entertainment they watch his body twist/This is the way, step inside” and one can’t help but read between the lines, thinking maybe he’s singing about one of his now infamous on-stage seizure attacks. Then of course, there’s the driving “Isolation”, a precursor in some ways to the more electronica track that New Order would take, but darker. The song finds Curtis proclaiming “I’m ashamed of the things I’ve been put through/I’m ashamed of the person I am/Isolation, Isolation”
The reach of Joy Division has lasted far beyond their two albums would lend one to believe. To this day, in the music of such bands as Interpol, The Editors, or even Moby, their presence can be felt. Closer is their lasting monument to the Goth movement they defined and a fitting monument to the genius that was Ian Curtis.
- Atrocity Exhibition (6:04)
- Isolation (2:55)
- Passover (4:45)
- Colony (3:55)
- A Means To An End (4:09)
- Heart And Soul (5:53)
- Twenty Four Hours (4:28)
- The Eternal (6:04)
- Decades (6:14)
- Dead Souls – [University of London Union Live 8] (4:58)
- Glass – [University of London Union Live 8] (3:42)
- A Means To An End – [University of London Union Live 8] (4:00)
- Twenty Four Hours – [University of London Union Live 8] (4:05)
- Passover – [University of London Union Live 8] (4:53)
- Insight – [University of London Union Live 8] (4:01)
- Colony – [University of London Union Live 8] (4:04)
- These Days – [University of London Union Live 8] (4:17)
- Love Will Tear Us Apart – [University of London Union Live 8] (3:13)
- Isolation – [University of London Union Live 8] (4:41)
- The Eternal – [University of London Union Live 8] (Encore) (6:30)
- Digital – [University of London Union Live 8] (Encore) (3:14)
Joy Division’s Closer is by no means an audiophile-quality recording, but with that being said, this high-resolution download from HDtracks is about the best this material has ever sounded. Apart from the “grungy” sounding highs that lack airiness and clarity, the sound has a lot of natural dynamic range, a good amount of analogue warmth, and certainly punch and low end. It hasn’t been pushed, limited or clipped in anyway, so it sounds just right, as opposed to the Heart & Soul box set that doesn’t sound so good to my ears. That’s the good, now for the bad, no amount of massaging can really help out the poor recording quality of the University of London Union Live 8 show also included here, but it’s still worth having for fans.
Only a PDF of high-res cover art is included.
The Definitive Word
The classic post-punk of Joy Division is handled wonderfully, even if it isn’t what one would normally consider an audiophile source, with this lossless, high-resolution download from HDtracks, courtesy of Warner Music UK. It’s great music and it has never sounded better.