Closer is the second and final studio album by 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.
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 Martyn Atkins 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 "the album cover... it's a tomb!"
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."
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".
^ abcMcCullough, Dave (26 July 1980). "Closer to the Edge [Closer -review]". Sounds. "Young men in dark silhouettes, some darker than others, looking inwards, looking out, discovering the same horror and describing it with the same dark strokes of gothic rock."
^ abScaruffi, Piero. "Joy Division". The History of Rock Music. Retrieved 19 August 2013. "The two albums cut by Joy Division [...] coined a new kind of gothic, decadent, futuristic and psychedelic rock."