Unknown Pleasures was bleak, but Closer is even more stark and unsettling. The difference largely comes from the slower songs – while most of Unknown Pleasures was uptempo, Closer features songs that are slow and mournful, and Curtis’ vocal style has shifted to an affected baritone. His suicide before the album’s release has only enhanced its reputation as a significant record.
A lot of the emotional heft of Closer comes from the final two songs – ‘The Eternal’ and ‘Decades’. ‘The Eternal’ is punctuated by a simple piano figure, while ‘Decades’ is anchored by Hook’s lead bass lines, but both are melodic and stately. The best song, however, is the driving ‘Twenty Four Hours’. Elsewhere, ‘Passover’ is another beautiful tune, while the refrain “Heart and soul, one will burn” is deeply unsettling.
It’s emotionally unsettling, but Closer is a surprisingly gorgeous album, successfully fusing beauty to Joy Division’s omnipresent intensity.