Review Summary: A strange start for one of the most regarded progenitors of the post-punk revolution.
Ian Curtis: Vocals
Bernard Sumner: Guitar
Peter Hook: Bass
Stephen Morris: Drums
As a small disclaimer for those of you out there who are trying to start listening to Joy Division to understand what they were all about back in the day or what post-punk was about in general, I wouldn't start here on this early EP. It just isn't nearly as dark, depressing, lugubrious, or musically progressive as the famous majority of Joy Division's material. In fact, 1978's "An Ideal for Living" was most likely the most raw as well as the most punk that JD had even been before transitioning to their now famous dirge-punk sound accompanied by the notoriously depressing voice of the late great Ian Curtis. However, here even Ian's vocals seem to be in a slightly different tone than on "Unknown Pleasures", which is strange seeing as "Pleasures" was released barely over a year after "An Ideal for Living". So what was the deal with that exactly?
While I said this EP does not give a listener a significant or insightful listen on Joy Division's signature eerie sound, it does still have dark lyrical themes as well as an abrasive and fast-paced oldschool punk sound. However, the four songs on this release were all a tad longer than your usual punk song on your usual punk album. With songs ranging from a mere 2 minute track like "Warsaw" (the opening track) to two songs being nearly 4 minutes long like "No Love Lost" and "Failures", Joy Division still managed to stand out from contemporary upcoming punk legends such as the Sex Pistols and the Ramones. Unlike all of the punk bands that were all about anarchy and nonchalant suburban mischief, Joy Division seemed like a much more thoroughly mature group made up of four young lads from Manchester, England. Another little fiasco that helped set them aside from the others was being accused of being Nazi sympathizers and/or enablers, but even though Ian was highly interested in the war as a blossoming child and the group was previously named Warsaw, I doubt that they were the real deal...or at least that wasn't the point of their musical ideologies.
The album starts off with a killer punk track "Warsaw", an overlooked anthem in the punk community that features Ian deeply chanting "3-1-G". Next we get a taste of the blurry and fuzzy guitar sound of Bernard Sumner and infectious backbeat of Stephen Morris's drums and Peter Hook's bassline on the second track "No Love Lost". In the third track "Leaders of Men", Ian sings us a song about the cons of politics, disparagement, and the figureheads of war with deeply dark lyrics such as:
"Born from some mother's room
Just like any other room
Made a promise for a new life
Made a victim out of your life"
Lastly, the ephemeral 12-minute listening period of this EP closes with "Failures", which in my opinion is the most musically scrambled song off of this work and the best example of their punk-inspired attitude mixed in with dark and insightful lyrics. However after listening to more prominent Joy Division masterpieces like "Unknown Pleasures" and "Closer", as well as their other separately released material on compilations like "Substance" and "Still", I can already tell that this was not the cream of the crop of Joy Division's collection of distinct post-punk classics. However, for those of you who just want to avoid listening to their more "boring" material since you just can't develop the acquired taste to do so, I guess you could be somewhat satisfied for the slightly more energetic and dynamic overall sound of this brief EP from the legendary quartet.