But yo, dig it. This album is legendary. It birthed the entire post-punk scene. But it’s not exactly like they were trying to do much different. They were just some Manks trying to play punk rock. They just had a couple hiccups there…
Then there’s the atmosphere. There’s an unusual amount of echo on the drums and vocals for a punk record (which Hook famously hated). This is essentially because producer Martin Hannet thought punk rock was boring, and Joy Division didn’t have enough studio experience to argue with him.
The result is a weird, wonderfully dark record that served as the perfect atmosphere for the morose baritone of Ian Curtis, one of rock and roll’s most celebrated and tragic frontmen. While their next album would be much more shaded by Curtis’s suicide, Unknown Pleasures does little to offer contrarian narrative, and would go one to be embraced by weird sad kids everywhere across every generation (that I missed it until after college astounds me.
Looking at its humble beginnings, it’s amazing that Unknown Pleasures became the monolithic icon it is. More than just a weird underground hit, it has been lauded by every music publication from NME to Rolling Stone. I sometimes wonder if it owes its legacy more to its cover and aesthetic than its songs. But when I revisit it, I am quickly corrected.