Had Martin Hannet not discovered the band when he did, Joy Division could’ve been just another straightforward punk rock outfit with slightly erudite lyrics, which would forever alter the timeline of sad British pop music and drastically change the requisite material for crying indie kids everywhere. There are four tracks on the An Ideal for Living extended-play, and they all utilize a driving rhythm akin to The Damned and The Buzzcocks. Compared to the rest of Joy Division’s discography, the group’s debut is primitive in production and songcraft; it’s a cursory listen for those curious of the band’s roots and is by no means a necessary part of indie culture, unlike the Atmosphere or Love Will Tear Us Apart singles.
“Warsaw” describes Rudolf Hess’ infatuation and subsequent disillusionment with Nazi ideology, culminating in his leaving Germany to attempt the brokering of peace between the Allies and Axis powers.1 “No Love Lost” starts out with two minutes of angular, staccato guitar riffing that’s positively Wire-esque before lapsing into drawling lyrics on confinement and human experimentation. “Leaders of Men” is a sardonic take on political disenfranchisement and inveterate institutions; there are many songs that do the same much more effectively. “Failures” contains the fastest guitar solo ever written by Joy Division, and it utilizes a relatively upbeat, even poppish melody.
1. Warsaw – (2:24) – ★★★☆☆
2. No Love Lost – (3:42) – ★★★☆☆
3. Leaders of Men – (2:35) – ★★☆☆☆
4. Failures – (3:44) – ★★★★☆
[UPDATE 26 April 2016: Changed the overall rating from three stars to two-and-a-half stars.]
1The opening “3 1 0 1 2 5 GO!” and chorus “3 1 G” reference Hess’s POW number: 31G-350125.