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The world sometimes comes crashing down.
When it does, it's nice to have the right music to accompany the melancholy. Released in 1979, Unknown Pleasures, the debut album by Joy Division , provides a great soundtrack for rough times.
Listening to songs on this album such as the rhythmical and terrifying "She's Lost Control" and the ghostly dramatic conclusion, "I Remember Nothing," makes it easy to see why this group has been considered the first Goth or alternative band.
In fact, bands like Nine Inch Nails and Nirvana are said to have been heavily influenced by Joy Division, whose aim wasn't to shock or have indecipherable lyrics, but to express the breadth of human emotion to everyone.
What separated Joy Division from their punk predecessors was the use of synthesizers, oppressive chord progressions and most importantly, the voice of lead singer Ian Curtis a haunting bass croon that resonates in songs such as "New Dawn Fades" and "Day of the Lords." These songs brim with pain so tangible, Curtis himself may have been experiencing it.
Despite the gloom, there's some groove in fast-paced tracks like "Disorder," in which the listener can feel the enthusiasm of an individual who desires to break free from a world of confusion. Another example is "Interzone," where the fleeting rhythm illustrates the sadness of having lost youth.
"Insight," a highly underrated track, features Curtis' voice sounding as if he has been weeping and has come to the realization that he can look adversity in the face. This sentiment is confirmed in the lyrics, "Guess the dreams always end/ They don't rise up, just descend/But I don't care anymore/ I've lost the will to want more/ I'm not afraid, not at all."
Unknown Pleasures presents a dark, yet hopeful view. Ironically, Curtis couldn't cope with his own demons and took his life in May of 1980. The band later regrouped and became New Order, but the legacy of Joy Division's experimentation can still be felt in more cutting-edge acts like Radiohead.
Hopefully more bands will follow Joy Division's footsteps in the new decade of music.