Unknown Pleasures cover

Unknown Pleasures


Over the decades it’s almost been the case that Peter Saville’s monumental art design for the cover of Joy Division’s debut full-length outstrips the music itself, but even just a quick listen confirms the staying power of the remarkable music they’d created at a young age. While the band famously felt that Martin Hannett’s production didn’t capture them at their strongest, the dark power and energy of such remarkable songs as “Shadowplay,” “New Dawn Fades” and “She’s Lost Control” retain a vivid intensity.

Ned Raggett

The t-shirt, the starting point, the challenge, the goof. There is so much mythos around this album it feels a bit like the smoke monster on Lost—widely discussed, rarely seen. I can’t speak to the people who find this album sad or this music depressing, as I’ve been listening to this since the day it came out and it’s always sounded hyper-charged and infinitely clever, more than a bit touched by god. The way the band arranged the bass and guitar and drum parts like some kind of bit-mapped version of Delacroix. The basslines sound symphonic, and the guitar lines sound like vibraphone parts yanked out of a Blue Note album. Stephen Morris plays every drum part like his eyes are closed and he’s never actually heard rock music but he thinks he knows how it should feel. Ian is an Iggy fan, intoning all of his weird ideas about love and society and isolation, and getting religion half the time. This is a rave-up, x-rayed. A true formal gem, every one of these songs a roadmap for ways into and out of rock.

Sasha Frere-Jones

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