The final studio record by prolific English artistry Joy Division came two months after the initial tragedy with a death in the family of the band. Ian Curtis, the band’s lead singer committed suicide only two months before Closer was released and ushered in a new era to the post-punk world.
The album is less inviting as a welcoming overture and instead fits better to a funeral procession of an everlasting light. The writing, positioning of the instrumentation, and incredible dread of the record is evident as the life has been drained out through these ports of raw, defined marble. “Atrocity Exhibition” is the opening track that acts as a folded-armed stance with these rolling drums as the constructional foundation behind Joy Division. Somehow, this assembly is met with Curtis describing, “This is the way, step inside,” as Bernard Sumner leads this scratchy assault on the guitar. Both Peter Hook on bass and Stephen Morris on percussion play key-roles as the chiseled rhythm section.
The isolation perhaps comes from Curtis’s lyricism that describes this platonic sense of love, “Carefully watched for a reason, painstaking devotion and love. Surrendered to self-preservation, from others who care for themselves. A blindness that touches perfection, but hurts just like anything else.” It is necessarily drenched in these allegories through disciplined writing and rhythmic structure that hits moments of moral desperation and destruction. The message overall is an isolated one and often filled with despair, but Closer is ultimately an accomplished record that can be danced to in an underground, blacked-out sort of way.
Closer as a record feels slick to the touch as tracks like “Colony”, “A Means to an End”, and, “Heart and Soul” can smack from deep range to accomplish these underlying doses of audible morphine. Each track becomes more addictive than the last with hints and traces of harsh bass lines that clash against the smooth and illicit performance from Curtis. As Hook marches along on the bass and works in tandem to Sumner, the production bounces between both the melancholy and the uplifted; the lugubrious and the elevated.
As Joy Division begins this march into the final moments of their second and terminal record for the group, a new order was on the horizon. Forming to fit no standards but their own, Closer nestles to the listener as a cruel, but vivid reminder of the genius that comes from the desolation within one’s self and just how well it tattoos the pages of history.