Substance review by Joy Division

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  • Released: Jun 23, 1988
  • Sound: 10
  • Lyrics: 10
  • Overall Impression: 10
  • Reviewer's score: 10 Gem
  • Users' score: 9.9 (13 votes)
Joy Division: Substance

Sound — 10
This album is a compilation of Joy Division's greatest hits, and is not only a prominent album because it profiles their astounding career, but because it contains many of their great songs never released on an album. As it's a profile of their entire career, this album doesn't have one sound, but many. Many songs show the rawness and punk feel of early Joy Division when they were first developing their sound, whereas others demonstrate the band's progression to slower, more haunting and melodic songs. Although they are labelled by most as post-punk, Joy Division's sound on substance is completely unique, and doesn't truly conform to any particular genre.

Lyrics — 10
As always, Ian Curtis' lyrics are hauntingly beatiful. He was an avid writer, and his lyrics on every song show his depth and diversity as a poet. Although the progression of Joy Division's sound can be seen on this album, it arguably also shows how Ian Curtis' themes and lyrics stayed relatively the same throughout their career. This being said, earlier in their career when Joy Division had a rougher sound, Curtis' lyrics were in stark contrast to the band's style of music, while they gradually became more compliant with Joy Division's sound in their later days. Though his skill as a lyricist compensates for this, Ian Curtis' vocal range leaves much to be desired. He mostly sings in a monotonous baritone voice, which takes some getting used to, but can be easily overlooked.

Overall Impression — 10
It is hard to draw comparisons between Substance and their other albums as it demonstrates both the highs and lows (which are still pretty high) of Joy Division. However, being essentially a greatest hits, it can be agreed that it is a magnificent compilation with every song bringing something new and different but always beatiful to the album. This is a must-have for any die-hard fan not wanting to hunt down Joy Division singles.

3 comments sorted by best / new / date

    Bugger! I was going to review this at the weekend =/ Still, good review mate. Can't say I enjoy the 4 punkier singles from the bands earlier incarnation though. Leaders of Men quite frankly annoys me lol A must have for most CD collections, even if just for the haunting poetry of Love Will Tear Us Apart, Atmosphere and Transmission =]
    Great album, still to check out all their other stuff would be smart as there are a lot of great tracks left out of Substance
    So depressing. Especially Atmosphere. But I love it, and wouldn't have it any other way. "People like you... Find it easy"