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 at 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, through record label Factory, following the death of lead singer Ian Curtis two months earlier.


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.[1]

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!"


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[2]
Robert Christgau A-[3]
Pitchfork 10/10[4]
Q 5/5 stars[5]
Rolling Stone 5/5 stars[6]
Smash Hits 8.5/10[7]
Spin 10/10 stars[8]
Sputnikmusic 5/5 stars[9]
Uncut 5/5 stars[10]

When Closer came out, Sounds' Dave McCullough remarked that there were "dark strokes of gothic rock".[11] 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".[12] 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".[7]

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."

"It has the best cover in the history of music – it looks like neoclassical French art," remarked Neil Hannon of The Divine Comedy. "Then it starts and gradually declines into this total otherness. It makes you so depressed that when it's finished you're emotionally drained."[13]


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.[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]

Closer was included in the book 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die.[19]

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. ^ "J. G. Ballard – Times Online". 5 January 2008. Retrieved 12 October 2012. 
  2. ^ Raggett, Ned. "Closer – Joy Division : Songs, Reviews, Credits, Awards". AllMusic. Rovi Corporation. Retrieved 12 October 2012. 
  3. ^ Christgau, Robert. "Robert Christgau: CG: Joy Division". Retrieved 12 October 2012. 
  4. ^ Klein, Joshua (29 October 2007). "Joy Division: Unknown Pleasures / Closer / Still Album Reviews". Pitchfork. Retrieved 12 October 2012. 
  5. ^ Lynskey, Dorian (October 2007). "[Q magazine review]". Q (255). 
  6. ^ "Joy Division: Album Guide | Rolling Stone Music". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 12 October 2012. 
  7. ^ a b Macaulay, Alastair. "Albums". Smash Hits (24 July – 6 August 1980): 29. 
  8. ^ 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. 
  9. ^ Downer, Adam (10 April 2006). "Joy Division Closer review". Sputnikmusic. Retrieved 19 August 2013. 
  10. ^ "Joy Division – Reissues – Review –". Archived from the original on 19 July 2008. Retrieved 12 October 2012. 
  11. ^ 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. 
  12. ^ 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. 
  13. ^ Thornton, Anthony: 'Neil Hannon's Record Collection', Q #146, November 1998, p67
  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 Stones. 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. 
  19. ^ Dimery, Robert, ed. (2011). 1001 Albums: You Must Hear Before You Die. Preface by Michael Lydon. Octopus. ISBN 1-844-03714-2. ISBN 978-18-4403-714-8.  Last update: 19 August 2013.

External links[edit]