The soundtrack accompanying Anton Corbijn’s effortlessly stylish Ian Curtis biopic ‘Control’ clearly has one vital thing in its favour from the outset – the subject of the film itself. A sceptical listener could have expected this to be used merely as a showcase for the music of Joy Division, in a standardised, money-grabbing, ‘Greatest Hits’ or ‘Best Of’ exercise.
Luckily, there is no evidence of such cynical scheming here. The compilers instead provide a thought-provoking retrospective of the music that inspired the post-punk pioneers, and a few snapshots of the genius they produced – only six of their creations make the final cut, including an intriguing version of their groundbreaking television performance of ‘Transmission’, with Tony Wilson’s introduction and the song itself restaged by the cast of the film.
This seeming defiance towards the mere compilation of the band’s most cherished hits is not without its faults: The Killers provide a bland and disinteresting interpretation of ‘Shadowplay’ that sounds oddly out of place amongst the carefully selected pieces of period music. Equally, it seems wrong to completely criticise the album for including selections from Joy Division’s acclaimed but short past when songs such as ‘Atmosphere’ still convey the intense melancholy that renders many of their songs gripping and beautiful in equal parts. Interspersed with melodramatic pieces of dialogue from the movie, this is inevitably a disjointed listen, not aided by the random track listing, which rather aptly defies the chronological conventions of the film completely.
Nevertheless, with tracks from subversive, generation-defining icons such as the Velvet Underground, the Sex Pistols, David Bowie and Joy Division themselves, for many contemporaries of the period this will be magically nostalgic. For everyone else, it is simply a collection of interesting, inspiring music.