Joy Division released this second, and last, album of theirs in 1980. It seems like a suicide note musically, complete from the album cover to the music within. It’s still a great listen, provided you are in the mood for such music. So without further a due, here is a glimpse into the music of this album, and perhaps the mind of Ian Curtis.
We begin with the pumping drumbeats of Atrocity Exhibition. It’s a personal statement from Ian Curtis about his representation in the music scene and his life. It’s a bleak statement and dark song at that. It is captivating listening though, with strange sounds within.
The next piece, Isolation, reveals a figure totally alone and isolated in the world. Ian Curtis’s voice is tripped out here, sounding very distorted. The music is very synth pop like, but the intention is completely different here. Ian Curtis was not very happy by the sounds of things.
Passover sounds more dark and deep than the previous song. “This is the crisis that I knew had to come…” it begins. Everyone in the Joy Division camp was concerned about Ian Curtis at the time, but unfortunately were unable to deal with him at the time. The music doesn’t sound happy here at all.
Colony continues the sparse and dark sound on offer. The chugging guitar and drumbeats work well here, boosting the song along. “God in his wisdom took you by the hand, God in his wisdom made you understand…” These are seriously disturbed sounding lyrics from Ian Curtis. But, a good listen at hand.
The next song A Means To An End sounds more depressing. With its descending bassline and ongoing sparse sound, it seems sad in retrospect with Ian Curtis’s passing that the music was made here of this sort. He repeatedly sings, “I put my trust in you” towards the end of this piece, just before the slowed down outro.
The follow up Heart and Soul tries to put some light on a very dark musical backdrop, but only ends up sounding more dark. “Heart and soul…what will burn…” sings Ian Curtis. It sounds very dark indeed. He talks about concepts of space and time throughout this song. It sounds dark and surreal here.
Twenty Four Hours is an intense and pacing song. It sounds like an incredibly urgent and sad statement from our vocalist. Society does not understand depression and other mental health issues well enough. Had people intervened, they could have saved Ian Curtis’s life. Sadly, this did not occur. It’s another good song here though.
The Eternal is likely a contender for the most depressing song ever made. It has a super depressing piano piece and funereal drumbeat. And it does actually talk about a funeral like experience. It’s a very dark, disturbed and depressing song. Listen to this with caution.
The last song on the album Decades is another hugely depressing listen. It is driven along by a good keyboard patch and harsh sounding handclaps. It sounds very atmospheric here with all the sounds in place. A good way to end this dark, dark album.
Ian Curtis committed suicide two months after the release of this album. He had problems with epilepsy and depression, plus he had divorced his wife Deborah Curtis. Despite all this, the music will last forever though.