Joy Division celebrates epileptic convulsions with “She’s Lost Control”

Joy Division celebrates epileptic convulsions with “She’s Lost Control”

In Hear This, A.V. Club writers sing the praises of songs they know well—some inspired by a weekly theme and some not, but always songs worth hearing.

Joy Division was one of the first good bands I got into, not long after the band that Joy Division became—New Order—had a big radio hit with “True Faith.” (New Order served as a backward gateway, you see.) Joy Division only released two albums, both stone classics, before singer Ian Curtis committed suicide on the verge of the band’s first American tour. (These sorts of stories are catnip to “deep” teens such as I was.) Both albums, 1979’s Unknown Pleasures and 1980’s Closer hold up, though I hadn’t dug into either until recently, as I was reading JD/NO bassist Peter Hook’s upcoming memoir, which covers only the Joy Division years. “She’s Lost Control” is kind of the hit (such as it is) of the first album, coupling a machine-cold drum beat with chilling (but sonically warm) words about a woman having a fit—a subject close to home for Curtis, who frequently went into epileptic convulsions during Joy Division gigs. It’s a striking song, both danceable and depressing, and an aural precursor to all sorts of things, both immediate and far in the future (hello, first Interpol album!). But it’s not off-putting at all. In fact, my 2-year-old son (who I’m apparently going to mention in all of these pieces) recently heard the unmistakable drum intro, and from his car seat yelled, “This is my favorite song!” What have I done?

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