My attempt to blog all of the entries from the book 1001 Albums to Hear Before You Die
Brief Background: Unknown Pleasures is the debut album by the English band Joy Division. The album was recorded over three weekends in April of 1979 and released in June of the same year. The album initially sold slowly, but, along with its follow-up Closer, sold well after vocalist Ian Curtis’ suicide in 1980.
What I think: I’ve always absolutely loved the sound of Joy Division and especially this album, but have been turned off by Curtis’ vocals. The music on the album has this strong but slow and plodding bass and drums. The guitar is clear and clean sounding, but placed somewhere in the back of the mix. Surrounding all of that are these crazy sound effects that make it sound as if the album has been recorded in a gigantic warehouse making everything bounce around. It’s a dark sound, but when you get to Curtis’ vocals things get desperately dark and I’ve never been able to handle that. I wonder if it would have been different if he had come out of it alive, maybe there wouldn’t be so much gravity to them.
So, I’ve always listened to a song or two and then moved on. Accepting that I would be listening to the whole thing through here, I feel like it was a mistake not doing so years ago. There is no redemption here, no happy ending, but the grief and darkness wasn’t able to kill me through the speakers and that’s important, because it allows to listen to those lyrics an hear what he’s saying. I don’t have a good grasp on that yet, but could it be they aren’t all blackness and despair?
My favorite songs here are “Disorder”, “Candidate”, “Insight” and “Shadowplay”.
Do I agree or disagree with the writers as to this being an album you must listen to? I agree that it should be here, give it the chance it deserves and you won’t be disappointed.
Rating (Out of 5): 4/5
Is this my first time hearing this album? No (104/447)
Amount that are new to me: 77%