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"Mother, I tried, please believe me. I'm doing the best that I can."

"Existence well what does it matter?
I exist on the best terms I can.
The past is now part of my future,
The present is well out of hand.
The present is well out of hand.

Heart and soul, one will burn.
Heart and soul, one will burn.
One will burn, one will burn.
Heart and soul, one will burn."
— "Heart and Soul"
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Closer is the second and final studio album by Joy Division, released in 1980. Recorded at Pink Floyd's Britannia Row studio and once again produced by Martin Hannett, it came out a mere two months after frontman Ian Curtis' suicide. Compared to its predecessor Unknown Pleasures the songs are even more dour and decidedly more experimental, with four of them (in order, "Isolation", "Heart and Soul", "The Eternal", and "Decades") making prominent use of haunting synthesizer arrangements that would serve as the groundwork for the surviving bandmates' work as New Order. Note that these four tracks were written in early 1980; the other five songs, which are more rockist in composition, were realized fresh off the heels of Unknown Pleasures during the latter half of 1979.

Deciding which one of the two albums is the band's best can still cause flame wars among Joy Division fans, but everyone agrees they are both great. Fan favourites from this album include "Isolation", "Colony", and "Heart and Soul".

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The album was listed at nr. #157 in Rolling Stone's 500 Greatest Albums of All Time.


Tracklist:

Side One

  1. "Atrocity Exhibition" (6:06)
  2. "Isolation" (2:53)
  3. "Passover" (4:46)
  4. "Colony" (3:55)
  5. "A Means to an End" (4:07)

Side Two

  1. "Heart and Soul" (5:51)
  2. "Twenty Four Hours" (4:26)
  3. "The Eternal" (6:07)
  4. "Decades" (6:10)

Bonus Disc (2007 Remaster) (Live):

  1. "Dead Souls" (4:58)
  2. "Glass" (3:42)
  3. "A Means to an End" (4:00)
  4. "Twenty Four Hours" (4:05)
  5. "Passover" (4:53)
  6. "Insight" (4:01)
  7. "Colony" (4:04)
  8. "These Days" (4:17)
  9. "Love Will Tear Us Apart" (3:13)
  10. "Isolation" (4:41)
  11. "The Eternal" (6:30)
  12. "Digital" (3:14)

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Principal Members:


Here are the young men, the tropes on their shoulders:

  • Accentuate the Negative: It's a Joy Division album. There's no talking about sunshine and rainbows here.
  • Broken Pedestal: How the person in "Decades" views himself:
    Each ritual showed up the door for our wanderings,
    Open then shut, then slammed in our face.
  • Cerebus Syndrome: The album starts grim, and gets progressively gloomier throughout the set, ending with songs about the funeral of a social outcast and a visit to hell, which he is promptly rejected from.
  • Child Hater: "The Eternal":
    Cry like a child, though these years make me older
    With children my time is so wastefully spent
    A burden to keep, though their inner communion
    Accept like a curse an unlucky deal
  • Come to Gawk: "Atrocity Exhibition" is about people who pay to see a barely living man in an asylum:
    Asylums with doors open wide,
    Where people had paid to see inside.
    For entertainment they watch his body twist.
    Behind his eyes he says, 'I still exist.
  • Crapsack World: A strong theme way beyond the point of despair.
  • Darker and Edgier: The first album was certainly dark, but often hid its gloomy themes behind catchy, punk inspired tunes and indirect narratives. Closer takes a positively listless approach by comparison, having far fewer hope spots, slowing the pace and increasing the gloom present in the music by a considerable degree on its second side.
  • Deliberately Monochrome: The album cover.
  • Den of Iniquity: "Atrocity Exhibition", where human atrocities are exhibited for the amusement of others.
  • Design Student's Orgasm: The album cover was designed by Peter Saville.
  • Despair Event Horizon: The whole album qualifies as this, due to it essentially being a prolonged suicide note, but "Heart and Soul" takes the cake:
    Existence, well what does it matter?
  • Desperately Looking for a Purpose in Life: "Twenty Four Hours":
    Got to find my destiny before it gets too late
  • Driven to Suicide: A huge theme, certainly in light of Curtis' eventual untimely end.
  • Downer Ending: "Decades" (both for the album and the entire band thanks to its technical status as the last officially-released Joy Division song), which earns this on account of both its lyrics and its music.
  • Epic Rocking: Several songs clock in at around 6 minutes. Considering how the album managed to get ten more minutes of length out of fewer songs than Unknown Pleasures, there probably would have been more of these had Ian not crossed the Despair Event Horizon by this point.
  • Fake-Out Fade-Out: "Isolation" ends with one.
  • Freud Was Right: In "Isolation", Ian addresses a line to his mother.
  • God-Is-Love Songs: "Colony":
    God in his wisdom took you by the hand / God in his wisdom made you understand
  • Goth Rock: A cornerstone of the genre.
  • Gratuitous Panning: The tom-tom hits on "Passover" are panned between the left and right speakers.
  • Grief Song: Every track.
  • I Want My Mommy!: "Isolation":
    Mother I've tried, please believe me
    I'm doing the best that I can
    I'm ashamed of the things I've been put through
    I'm ashamed of the person I am
  • Jump Scare: The end of "Isolation", after reversing the tape, invokes this with a loud burst of noise.
  • Last Note Nightmare: "Isolation" and "A Means to an End", which slowly comes to an end. "Isolation" is an interesting case in that it's just the last few seconds of the song being played backwards, the end result of Martin Hannet's hasty attempts at reversing a junior sound engineer's damaging of the song's master recording.
  • Letting the Air Out of the Band:
    • "The Eternal".
    • Done by tape manipulation on "A Means to an End".
  • Longest Song Goes Last: "Decades"
  • Lonely Piano Piece: "The Eternal" is dominated with downbeat piano playing and synthesized choir effects.
  • Lyrical Dissonance: "Isolation", a bouncy synth-pop tune with gloomy lyrics:
    Surrendered to self preservation,
    From others who care for themselves.
    A blindness that touches perfection,
    But hurts just like anything else.
  • Minimalistic Cover Art: A black and white photograph of the Appiani family tomb in the Cimitero Monumentale di Staglieno in Genoa, Italy. This, of course, lead to very unfortunate implications after Curtis' death.
  • New Sound Album: Quoth Wikipedia, Closer "featured an even darker, doomed Curtis and a total abandonment of the punk aesthetic for a more unearthly, primeval sound." Compared to Unknown Pleasures, the album is far more experimental in tone and makes greater use of synthesizers, to the point where Joy Division at this point seems like an almost completely different band than the one that made "Disorder" and "She's Lost Control".
  • One-Word Title: "Closer", as well as the individual tracks "Isolation", "Passover", "Colony" and "Decades".
  • Record Producer: Martin Hannett.
  • Self-Deprecation: "Isolation":
    Mother, I tried, please believe me
    I'm doing the best that I can
    I'm ashamed of the things I've been put through
    I'm ashamed of the person I am
  • Shout-Out:
    • The album was inspired by J. G. Ballard's The Atrocity Exhibition and the first track was named after this novel.
    • "Colony" was inspired by Franz Kafka's short story '"In the Penal Colony".
  • Stock Sound Effects: "The Eternal" has train sounds which were mixed in and heavily manipulated.
  • Synthpop: "Isolation", "Heart and Soul", and "Decades" show the band experimenting with the genre that the surviving members would later perfect as New Order.

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