Music history is overloaded with messy, sticky ends to initially promising starts.
The story of Joy Division, and Ian Curtis, is perhaps the greatest of all examples of these fatalistic flashes of creativity, and the inevitable, self-destructive comedown.
Unknown Pleasures was released in 1979, arriving just as punk was entering it’s final death throes. Punk had truly expended itself by this point – the visceral energy that had carried it to the forefront of contemporary music no longer inspired the shock and awe that the genre depended on. What Joy Division accomplished with Unknown Pleasures was a quite remarkable juxtaposition of punk’s primitive, animalistic energy with a self-imposed restraint – a compound that resulted in an album of quietly terrifying, barely-contained carnality.
When Ian Curtis committed suicide in 1980, just a year after the release of Unknown Pleasures, music lost one of it’s most truly revolutionary figures, and Joy Division’s debut album has become one of the true touchstones of modern culture.
When they released Unknown Pleasures, Joy Division kicked down doors that most people didn’t even know were closed. 34 years later, we are still exploring the spaces behind them.