Joy Division: Ian Curtis (vocals); Bernard Sumner (guitar, keyboards); Peter Hook (bass); Stephen Morris (drums).
CLOSER is the second and final album by Joy Division, arguably the most influential U.K. band of their generation. Arriving just months after lead singer Ian Curtis' suicide, it stands as a fragile document of one man's despair, as much as a definitive statement by a band at the height of their powers. While Joy Division's much-lauded debut, UNKNOWN PLEASURES, demonstrated their transformation from shambolic punks into a tight, highly focused quartet, CLOSER cemented their status as musicians at the vanguard of modern rock. Introducing a more vibrant and expansive sound palette--adding mournful pianos and funereal strings--the album is a sprawling, poignant last chapter of a band that seemed, at the time, to have unlimited potential for greatness.
Whereas UNKNOWN PLEASURES' interplay of light and shadow was daubed in contrasting layers of chiaroscuro, CLOSER is saturated with the harsh industrial glow of fluorescent light. Adding modernizing touches in the form of synthesizers--whether chirping like cicadas or forming elliptical, stuttering arpeggios--their efforts presaged later attempts at the marriage of rock and electronics by synth-pop and new romantic groups. But the band has never sounded as brutal or savaging as on the art-damaged opener "Atrocity Exhibition"--a grinding blitzkrieg of guitar shrapnel exploding in all directions, furious tribal rhythms, and Curtis intoning, "this is the way, step inside." Plumbing the depths of alienation, the steely-cool precision of "Isolation" reflects Curtis's growing detachment from a life that's spinning further from his control. Which all leads up to the closer, the epic drama of "Decades"--a slow-boil funereal dirge that builds to a stunning conclusion, it will leave no doubt about the enduring power of one of the most vital groups of the'70s.
Rolling Stone - Ranked #56 in Rolling Stone's "100 Greatest Albums Of The 80s" survey. (November 1989)
Rolling Stone (12/11/03, p.134) - Ranked #157 in Rolling Stone's "500 Greatest Albums Of All Time"
Q (1/03, p.64) - Included in Q Magazine's "100 Greatest Albums Ever"
Q (9/93, p.97) - 4 Stars - Excellent - "...CLOSER [is] less clattering and disturbingly more haunted....Martin Hannett's delicate production prized every last shivering nuance. On one level it's a terrifying last testament. But Peter Hook's becoming a great bassist..."
Mojo (Publisher) (9/01, p.86) - "...A work of genius..."
NME (Magazine) (8/12/00, p.28) - Ranked #2 in The NME "Top 30 Heartbreak Albums".
NME (Magazine) (9/25/93, p.19) - Ranked #8 in NME's list of The 50 Greatest Albums Of The '80s - "...`Sad,' `depressing,' and `really, really depressing,' [CLOSER] is one man's eloquently articulated angst set to a spine-tingling, soft-focus soundtrack..."
NME (Magazine) (7/3/93, p.36) - 10 - Classic - "...a benchmark against which, if nothing else, all those early Cure albums sound a bit silly...."
NME (Magazine) (10/2/93, p.29) - Ranked #20 in NME's list of the `Greatest Albums Of All Time.'
Blender (Magazine) (p.157) - 4 stars out of 5 -- "Prickly synths and lurching grooves suggest an ascetic version of disco, and Curtis sings as if he's hanging on by a thread..."