Joy Division: Closer – [Record 40]
Closer: is the second and final studio album by the English post-punk band Joy Division. It was released on 18 July 1980, through record label Factory, following the suicide of lead singer Ian Curtis two months earlier. Closer is one of the first albums that was reviewed with the “gothic rock” genre.
1. Atrocity Exhibition
5. A Means to an End.
6. Heart and Soul.
7. Twenty Four Hours.
8. The Eternal.
Background: Closer was produced by Martin Hannett. The Atrocity Exhibition by J.G. Ballard was an influence on the album, and the novel shares its title with the opening track.
The album cover was designed by Martyn Atkins and Peter Saville, with photography by Bernard Pierre Wolff. The photograph on the cover is of the Appiani family tomb in the Cimitero Monumentale di Staglieno in Genoa, Italy. In a 2007 documentary on the band, designer Peter Saville commented that he, upon learning of singer Ian Curtis’s suicide, expressed immediate concern over the album’s design as it depicted a funeral theme, remarking “we’ve got a tomb on the cover of the album!”
Release: Closer was released on 18 July 1980, through the Factory Records label, as a 12″ vinyl LP. It reached number 6 on the UK Albums Chart. It also peaked at number 3 in New Zealand in September 1981. It claimed the number one slot on NME Album of the Year.
Closer, along with Unknown Pleasures and Still, was remastered and re-released in 2007. As with Unknown Pleasures and Still, the remaster comes packaged with a bonus live disc, recorded at the University of London.
Reception: When Closer came out, Sounds’ Dave McCullough remarked that there were “dark strokes of gothic rock”. In his 2007 book, Colin Sharp commented: “Dave McCullough in Sounds magazine used the phrase ‘dark strokes of gothic rock’ to describe the feel of the record. It was undoubtedly a giant leap, not only for Joy Division, but for the through line of rock music, in the broadest sense, and it still casts a shadow over a whole range of genres, groups and artists, be they new goths, emo or indie”. Reviewing the album for Smash Hits in 1980, Alastair Macaulay described the album as an “exercise in dark controlled passion” and said that music “stands up on its own as the band’s epitaph”.
In their review of the 2007 reissue of the album, Pitchfork remarked, “Closer is even more austere, more claustrophobic, more inventive, more beautiful and more haunting than its predecessor”, calling it “Joy Division’s start-to-finish masterpiece; a flawless encapsulation of everything the group sought to achieve.”
Accolades: The album has been highly acclaimed, and is often cited as being Joy Division’s finest work. Pitchfork listed Closer as the 10th best album of the 1980s. It was placed 72nd on NME’s list of the one-hundred greatest British albums ever. In 2003, the album was ranked at number 157 on Rolling Stone’s list of the five-hundred greatest albums ever. In 2006, Q magazine placed the album at number 8 in its list of the forty best albums of the 1980s. In 2012, Slant Magazine listed the album at number 7 on its list of the best albums of the 1980s. Sonic Seducer listed it 2nd in their list “10 Key Albums for the Gothic Scene”.
Closer was included in the book 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die.