Joy Division’s debut Unknown Pleasures documents an uneasy reconciliation between the punk inspired aggression of Joy Division’s live show and previous recordings as Warsaw, and the glassy, ominous sound from producer Martin Hannett. With the gloominess and foreboding in Ian Curtis’ lyrics, the pairing of Hannett’s atmospheric production with Joy Division proved inspired, creating a landmark debut. All the members show their distinctive styles; opener ‘Disorder’ showcases Stephen Morris’ robotic drumming, guitarist Bernard Sumner utilises a synthesizer of the foreboding closer ‘I Remember Nothing’, and Hook’s bass is the lead instrument. But Ian Curtis is the star, and the reverb-drenched austerity puts the spotlight on his chilling vocals.
The strongest tracks are ‘She’s Lost Control’ and the dramatic closer ‘I Remember Nothing’, autobiographical tales from Curtis about epilepsy and his failing marriage. The album version of ‘She’s Lost Control’ is substantially more intense and superior to the single version featured on Substance.
Unknown Pleasures is a very strong debut, a chilling mixture of punk and atmosphere.