Joy Division - Closer (1980), 8/10

We get another wildly perfect and poetic opener in "Atrocity Exhibition" mirroring the equally moving "Disorder" from the preceding Unknown Pleasures. There are some superbly interesting ideas contained in this record that pair beautifully with Ian's tortured vocal performances and Peter's intoxicating riffs. Stephen gets to shine in ways that are previously unmatched, and Bernard clearly had his own fingerprint on many of these tracks that would carry their influence into New Order’s development as performers and even more so as composers. The balance created by the somber lyrics and tone with the infectious, biting percussive backbone is simply intoxicating. Undoubtedly hosts some of Joy Division's most interesting and successfully arranged songs, accented by their most interesting use of noise and textures. "Decades" offers a chillingly beautiful and apt closer to one of the greatest records of the eighties, arriving just at the start of the decade. The cold, ominous aesthetic is uncharacteristically endearing considering its detached ethos, most likely stemming from Ian’s vulnerability in the midst of his tragically depressive state. Despite all of this, however, the music suffers at moments from the sometimes perfunctory approach to Ian’s vocals and the instrumentation, more specifically the arrangements in tracks like “Passover”, “A Means to an End” and most significantly the supremely distressing “The Eternal”. Still, there is a manifestation of uniquely presented gothic rock mixed fluidly with magnificent, mournful poetry that can’t be found anywhere else. Ultimately what makes this album stand out is this perfect blending of philosophically mature yet intensely depressive and tragically foreboding lyricism with the band's original blending of textures, patterns and layers; the use of turbulent distortion against and in conjunction with clean textures sounds simply sublime. Provides what is perhaps the best and most singular representation of one of the most unique bands of the era, yet one of the most generously and tragically foreboding as well.