3 of 4 thought this review was well written
Was depressing ever the "in" thing to sing about? Think about it. Back in the late seventies, we were still recovering from the furious punk movement, and were gradually moving towards the dance rock phase that included influential bands like The Smiths and New Order. But what about that
period? 1979-1980. It's somewhat hard to tell; every book on music I've ever read seems to skip this period, as if ignoring a terrible occurence. Surely, this terrible occurence couldn't be Joy Division, could it? Probably not, but regardless Joy Division were, in fact, a wee bit popular in this time period. After releasing their mega debut Unkown Pleasures, they began to climb the ladder of popularity, and the four gloomy Brit boys slowly but surely began their reign of depressing terror. Scared? You should be. This music is so powerful, it's almost like a battle against what was popular at the time. Their second album Closer proved to be another class album, but Joy Division, despite they're amazing music, had a problem below the surface of the Brit-band that had it all - Ian Curtis suffered from epileptic seizures. His wife left him, and Ian was worried about fading away. So, after the release of Closer, frontman Ian Curtis' life was cut short, as he hung himself in his kitchen.
Joy Division - Unkown Pleasures (1979)
Ian Curtis: Vocals
Bernard Sumner: Guitar
Peter Hook: Bass
Stephen Morris: Drums, percussion
From the opening riff of Disorder
to the stunning musical performance of the prog-like I Remember Nothing
, this gloomy album houses hundreds of enjoyable moments. Some better than others, some very discreet and subtle, but they're definitley there. The lyrics are almost a reflection of the future, as they're like an open invitation to Ian Curtis' journal, as the lyrics sort of hint at things to come for the band. My advice before listening to this album? Take a deep breath. After it's done, you will be gasping for breath.
Probably the best songs on here are the saddest ones; The opener Disorder
is my personal favorite Joy Division song, as it has such an incredible low-fi energy to it. From the opening, punk-paced drum riff to that memorable bass line ascending and descending the bass at incredible speeds, to the trademark, lullaby-ish riff that compliments the bass a great deal. Ian's vocals are top notch (aka depressing), they seem to soar overtop the music, and have an incredible, deep energy. The vocals house the incredible lyrics that are the definition of just-go-kill-yourself. Of course the chorus is almost the exact same thing, but adding lightning fast riffage to the bass, and minus the vocals, giving the listener a chance to breathe. After a coulple minutes, the vocals become more uplifting, but the lyrics don't do the such. The song is over pretty quick, but its leaves a great mark on the album. If there is an opening any better than this, I'd like to hear it.
Another great track is the downright incredible Shadowplay
that focuses more on punk fury than making the listener sad. The rather slow paced intro featuring no more than a drum pattern and rumbling bass leads into the faster song that has all the necessities of a punk song. Simple, fast drums (which are quite simple, considering Stephen Morris' undeniable talent), the I-don't-care bass, example rumbling along with the three chords guitar, which just so happens to go into a quite impressive solo that has as much fury as a solo can pack. The vocals are in a world on they're own, as they sound so powerful that you could swear that Joy Division actually had something to fight
about (except crippling depression, of course). Keeping on the subject of the less-saddening songs, one of the most pronounced off the album is the undeniably catchy Insight
, which is sort of the pre-Twenty Four Hours song, as it is pretty much the same thing. It's a similar bass riff but turned down volume-wise a great deal, and the very dark vocal performance keeps it in the same boat as the rest of the album. The occasionally agile vocal performance is teamed up perfectly with the bass riff. The drums are a slowed down version of the Disorder
riff, but adding more techno-like fills. After the rather lenghty verse, you get into a futuristic chorus of electronic noises and the faint, ghostly keyboard riff that can haunt the listener. Ending rather fast, this song is completely enjoyable and very spacey, but also enable the listener to relaxe to it.
The follow up New Dawn Fades
is probably the saddest song on the album judging on the music alone. It starts as incredible as it gets into, with little more than a thumping drum riff and the saddest, most mournful bass pattern on the cd. Then in comes the guitar, the spectacular hooks showcased here are definltey among the best on the album. After the good-length intro, the vocals come in and defintely make the song. The most passionate vocal performance by Curtis yet, it conquers the music's feeling, controlling the way it affects you. The best part of the lyrics is the fact that he gradually moves into a very passionate, sad and haunting yelling performance that only makes this song more incredible. Though the music itself doesn't change that much, with the exception of a minor but effective solo inbetween verses, this song is definitely the peak of Joy Division. Nothing else even comes close. One of the most enjoyable, head nodding songs on here is the second last song, that falls in at little more than 2:15. The fast, furious and downright dancey song Interzone
is very enjoyable in the sense that it's almost a refreshement from the constant sadness of the album. The fastness of the drums and bass support the sharp guitars and overlapping vocals with a dual Sumner/Curtis performance. Short, grand and furious, this song is enjoyable in the least.
The Finale is the undeniable I Remember Nothing
, clocking in at close to 6:00. Starting out rather slow, this song's major aspect is the vocals, where Ian Curtis chooses to haunt you with his incredible, agile and unforgetable vocal performance. As he glides through the song, the music begins to pick up speed. At first, a drum and bass dual performance at a slow speed, then gradually a guitar enters with it's little fillings, and eventually the complete posession of music. The vocals keep on chugging, and the song doesn't really take off that much until the solo that keeps things interesting. As the song slowly dies down, you get as much groovyness that the album contains - nothing more than 5:30. Endings are important. And this one does the job.
Overall, if you aren't severly effected by the sheer genius of this album, then I urge you to give it another listen. Listen to it twice, if you have to. If you have not felt the sheer power of Joy Division, then you should give it a shot. Mind you , this album is one of the most depressing ones ever made, but if you can take it, it's one of the most rewarding musical experiences that you can have.
To quote Neil Young:
"It's better to burn out than fade away"
R.I.P Ian Curtis
Thanks for Reading,