Closer (Joy Division album)

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Joy Division Closer.jpg
Studio album by Joy Division
Released 18 July 1980
Recorded 18–30 March 1980
Studio Britannia Row Studios, Islington, London, England
Length 44:16
Label Factory
Producer Martin Hannett
Joy Division chronology
Unknown Pleasures

Closer is the second and final studio album by the English rock band Joy Division. It was released on 18 July 1980 on Factory Records, following the death of lead singer Ian Curtis two months earlier.

The album was produced by Martin Hannett and contains a much darker and austere sound than its predecessor Unknown Pleasures, with synthesizers and studio effects taking a leading role. The songs mostly create a desperate and funereal atmosphere, reflected in the cover art designed by Peter Saville.

Background and recording[edit]

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.[2]

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!"

Regarding the album's lyrical content, Sumner remarked, "We’d go to rehearsals and sit around and talk about really banal things. We’d do that until we couldn’t talk about banal things any more, then we’d pick up our instruments and record into a little cassette player. We didn’t talk about the music or the lyrics very much. We never analysed it."[3]


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, and spent four weeks at number 1 in Australia. It also peaked at number 3 in New Zealand in September 1981. It claimed the number one slot on NME Album of the Year and Colour Radio 4IP's Album of the Century.

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.


Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
AllMusic 5/5 stars[1]
Robert Christgau A-[4]
Pitchfork 10/10[5]
Q 5/5 stars[6]
Rolling Stone 5/5 stars[7]
Smash Hits 8.5/10[8]
Spin Alternative Record Guide 10/10 stars[9]
Sputnikmusic 5/5 stars[10]
Uncut 5/5 stars[11]

At the time of release, Sounds' Dave McCullough wrote that there were "dark strokes of gothic rock".[12] In his 2007 book, Colin Sharp observed that "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".[13] 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".[8]

In their review of the 2007 reissue of the album, Pitchfork described the album as "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 Joy Division's finest work. Pitchfork listed Closer as the 10th best album of the 1980s.[14] 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.[15] In 2006, Q magazine placed the album at number 8 in its list of the forty best albums of the 1980s.[16] In 2012, Slant Magazine listed the album at number 7 on its list of the best albums of the 1980s.[17] Sonic Seducer listed it 2nd in their list "10 Key Albums for the Gothic Scene".[18]

Track listing[edit]

Side A
No. Title Length
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 B
No. Title Length
6. "Heart and Soul"   5:51
7. "Twenty Four Hours"   4:26
8. "The Eternal"   6:07
9. "Decades"   6:10
Total length:


Joy Division


  1. ^ a b Raggett, Ned. "Closer – Joy Division : Songs, Reviews, Credits, Awards". AllMusic. Rovi Corporation. Retrieved 12 October 2012. 
  2. ^ "J. G. Ballard – Times Online". 5 January 2008. Retrieved 12 October 2012. 
  3. ^ "Most Important Albums Of NME's Lifetime - Joy Division, 'Closer'". Retrieved July 5, 2015
  4. ^ Christgau, Robert. "Robert Christgau: CG: Joy Division". Retrieved 12 October 2012. 
  5. ^ Klein, Joshua (29 October 2007). "Joy Division: Unknown Pleasures / Closer / Still Album Reviews". Pitchfork. Retrieved 12 October 2012. 
  6. ^ Lynskey, Dorian (October 2007). "[Q magazine review]". Q (255). 
  7. ^ "Joy Division: Album Guide | Rolling Stone Music". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 12 October 2012. 
  8. ^ a b Macaulay, Alastair. "Albums". Smash Hits (24 July – 6 August 1980): 29. 
  9. ^ Weisbard, Eric; Marks, Craig (1995). Spin Alternative Record Guide. New York: Vintage Books. p. 203. ISBN 0-679-75574-8. ISBN 978-06-7975-574-6. 
  10. ^ Downer, Adam (10 April 2006). "Joy Division Closer review". Sputnikmusic. Retrieved 19 August 2013. 
  11. ^ "Joy Division – Reissues – Review –". Archived from the original on 19 July 2008. Retrieved 12 October 2012. 
  12. ^ McCullough, 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. 
  13. ^ Sharp, Colin (2007). Who killed Martin Hannett? The story of Factory Records' musical magician. London: Aurum. p. 133a-b. ISBN 1-845-13174-6. ISBN 978-18-4513-174-6. 
  14. ^ Carr, Eric (20 November 2002). "Staff Lists: Top 100 Albums of the 1980s". Pitchfork. Retrieved 17 March 2013. 
  15. ^ "500 Greatest Albums of All Time. 157 | Joy Division - Closer". Rolling Stone. 2003. Retrieved 19 August 2013. 
  16. ^ "[Unknown title]". Q (241). August 2006. 
  17. ^ "Best Albums of the 1980s". Slant Magazine. 5 March 2012. Retrieved 12 July 2012. 
  18. ^ Gnuch, Kym (2012). "10 Alben mit Schlüsselcharakter für die Gothic-Szene". Sonic Seducer (in German). Special edition (1): 67. 


External links[edit]