And when one needs context of the life of the artist to enjoy their work, I'd argue you're venturing close to didacticism.
Did I write that one needs the context of the life of the artist to enjoy their work?
As much as I revere their importance and enjoy their body of work as a whole, Joy Division are overrated in my opinion and the only reason I can see Closer giving one deeper appreciation for the band is because much of their work is, like Sonic Youth, too cold to penetrate and putting a face on the pain makes it more personal and approachable. It doesn't make it good art
Really? I must be stupid then.
No work is "too cold to penetrate". What you are describing is not a trait of Joy Division, but a way to experience them - and if there's a shortcoming involved, is it on the side of Joy Division?
Very few people go to Joy Division with no context. What Control achieves is the displacement of one type of context in favor of another. It has been Ian Curtis' fate to become one of the most heavily mythified characters of rock history, quasi-deified into the pope of pain, acquiring a perverse sort of of ultimate street cred by backing it all up by hanging himself. Which I suspect is what tends to create the peculiar perception you describe, a combination of reverence and impenetrability that leads people to employ words like "majestic" and "God-like" in describing them. At least if they like them more than you seem to do.
Personally I never could see anything remotely "god-like" in Curtis' lyrics, rather something desperate. But pain and desperation are concepts who do not tend to thrive artistically when shorn of any context, divorced from any specific experience or personality. They are quintessentially personal. That doesn't neccessarily mean "biographical", but with Ian Curtis' lyrics there aren't many other options available, as they invariably take the form of an inner monologue - they don't set up any sort of context for themselves in the way lyrics or literature can do, for instance by the use of fictional characters or specific situations. There are no Dagenham Daves or mute witnesses in there. In my opinion, both the music and the lyrics gain considerably in force when experienced in the context of Curtis' specific circumstances and story, and I would suggest that it is exactly the absence of that context combined with the presence of their deified status which makes it seem "too cold to penetrate". The lyrics are personal - to introduce that angle is not to add something alien and superfluous to them, but rather to return them to their natural state, from which they have been displaced by 30 years of rock mythology. Since most of us didn't grow up in Manchester in the 1970s and didn't know Ian Curtis personally, the only way we can access that context other than tentatively trying to imagine it on the basis of the lyrics themselves is through other works of art, such as "Control". I'm sorry if it didn't work out for you, perhaps you ought to give it another go.