Joy Division’s debut ‘Unknown Pleasures‘ is regarded by some as one of the best albums ever released. When I first heard it I was in awe of the sound and feel of the album largely down to Ian Curtis presence. I was brought to the album through comparisons people had made between the music of Joy Division, Editors and Interpol. Everyone knows the tragedy of Ian Curtis and knowing that before hearing the album, you pick up on the finer details that he revels his emotions in.
‘Disorder’ opens the album and it feels far more upbeat than any other track on the album it terms of sound. The lyrics, as with many of the tracks, focus on a disconnection to the world and feelings. I’ve read on some other reviews that this is almost a dance song and its true, which makes it stand out in the album. ‘Day Of Our Lords’ is next with its cutting guitar and more dark lyrics but it continues with the overall feel. ‘Candidate’ is even more gloomy with mentions of blood and fear with a haunting sound. With ‘Insight’ we literally get insight into the mind of Ian Curtis as he sings about not caring or being afraid anymore, presumably of death. In a way its a letter to his loved ones that his time is running out and to expect the worst, as he repeats ‘I’m not afraid anymore’. The sound in this track is the most odd on the album as the sound of lasers plays through, somewhat not fitting and confusing the song.
By far the best track, ‘New Dawn Fades’ rocks up next. What an intro there is to this song. First drums, then a stunning guitar solo by Sumnar for a good minute that really sums up the emotional side of the album, without words. I could paste the lyrics of the entire song because they’re so good. Ian Curtis then goes on to describe a ruined relationship and how he was at fault and how he was always ‘hoping for something more‘. You’re able to dig deeper into his mind in this song, finding out more about what he’s disappointed by and how he see’s himself as the fault in the line. A Joy Division standard, ‘She’s Lost Control’ is up next and Curtis tells the story of an epilepsy victim he met and how her body had taken her over. ‘Shadowplay’ follows and it’s another one of my favourites from the album. Mainly the sound and the crashing intro, leading on to the best guitar melody on the album. Rising from the background in a kind of ‘look at me’ statement, Sumnar really takes the song to another level in between Curtis’ singing.
Two of the three closing tracks ‘Wilderness’ and ‘Interzone’, are short, pacy and more direct than most tracks on the album, similar to ‘Disorder’. I like these two though because they didn’t just let the album fade out, they filled the closing stages with a more upbeat sound, maybe to add a little bit extra for the wider audience. The closing track ‘I Remember Nothing’ with its slow drum beat, deep bass, glass breaking and lightning flashes end’s the album well. It maintains the overall sound of the album and kind of reminds you what Joy Division are all about.
Overall, I love this album and its certainly in my top 5. I go back to it when I need something real to listen to, and rarely does it get more real than this to be honest.