Today, listeners are still captivated by “Love Will Tear Us Apart,” its dark authenticity seemingly inseparable from the tragedy that preceded its release.
As Len Brown observed for NME in 1990:
“Ian Curtis was no more by the time Closer and ‘Love Will Tear Us Apart’ reached us, which makes it more difficult to measure their true merit objectively. During his lifetime, Joy Division colonised only the Independent charts. After he’d hanged himself, in the early hours of Sunday May 18, 1980, ‘Love Will Tear Us Apart’ reached number 13 in the UK singles charts, selling 160,000 copies; Closer reached six in the album charts.”
However, the song’s legacy extends far beyond that of a dark voyeurism. Its lasting influence has been recounted time and again by both musicians (The Cure, U2, Radiohead, Nine Inch Nails) and music critics. NME even named the song the greatest single of all time in 2002. In the earliest moments of the post-punk era, “Love Will Tear Us Apart” and Joy Division offered a radical new sound which enveloped Curtis’ groundbreaking, brutally honest, lyrical writing and would influence generations of musicians to come.