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The Cure

The Cure

The Cure will sometimes put out music that sounds more or less like it belongs on the radio: Just Like Heaven, Friday I'm in Love, etc. They can be excellent at uplifting pop music, but it's their dark side for which I think most people love them. Taking a look at my top 10 songs, you'll see that's the case for me. When not crafting slightly unusual pop, rock, or psychedelia, they are the masters of gloom. They create moods rather than songs; choruses and verses are ignored in favor of repeating drum and bass parts, with melodic instruments carefully layered over them. When I discovered them in high school, I thought I would never be interested in such repetitive, uninteresting music. But perhaps because that is such an emotionally turbulent time in life, I found their music actually ended up being exactly what I was looking for.

Album Reviews

Though clearly they have humble beginnings, there's some flashes of genius in this very early record. Most people say, and I agree, that this doesn't sound much like The Cure we all know and love yet. It's very sparse musically, and shows more punk leanings than any other disc of theirs. But every now and then, we get glimpses of what is to come: the structure of 10:15 Saturday Night is unusual, but would become typical for this group. Another Day and the title track are coming close to the "mood music" we would know them for later. But then there's crazy, throwaway tracks like Meathook or the straightforward punk of Grinding Halt. The most unfortunate thing is that the best songs from this period, Boys Don't Cry and Jumping Someone Else's Train, didn't make it on this or any other album.

Best tracks:
1. 10:15 Saturday Night
2. Another Day
3. Fire in Cairo

The Cure are sounding much more like themselves now, but there's still plenty of room to grow. If Three Imaginary Boys was sparse, this album approaches empty. Robert Smith worked hard to create a bleak atmosphere, and in the process, there just isn't a lot of music here. Heck, there are even two instrumentals and one that might as well be (Three). The music is still growing. It's a definite step up from their first effort, but the band is still discovering how to create this mood music. It's not a bad album; most of the songs are quite good, but there just aren't that many of them.

Best tracks:
1. A Forest
2. At Night
3. Play for Today

Woah, all of a sudden, The Cure are incredible. This is a massive leap from the previous record. Just like the monochromatic cover, this album is bleak, foreboding, and dense. It is so much more effective than Seventeen Seconds in terms of creating atmosphere. This would probably even be my favorite record of theirs, if not for Doubt, this sudden, jarring, punk rocker. Totally wrecks the atmosphere so carefully created by the other songs. But, when replaced with the amazing single from this time, Charlotte Sometimes, the album is absolute perfection. Their instrumental live track, Carnage Visors, is also excellent. Just an amazing time for the band.

Best tracks:
1. Faith
2. The Drowning Man
3. The Holy Hour

This album manages to do what Faith just missed: use every track to create a cohesive mood. But unlike Faith, it's not melancholy; it's angry. Pornography begins with the frustration and resentment of One Hundred Years, continues into paranoid ravings in A Short Term Effect, and so on. The album reaches its emotional climax in The Figurehead, a long tune which builds into a guitar crescendo before slowly drifting off, eventually transforming into the dreamy A Strange Day. My only complaint would be that the title track seems to have no bass, for some reason. It's quite apparent when compared to a live version. It makes the conclusion of the album feel a little weak. Anyway, this is definitely an album you have to be in the mood for. But during those times you feel utterly defeated by the world, it's there for you like no other album.

Best tracks:
1. The Figurehead
2. Cold
3. A Strange Day

It's not a true album, as many know. After the breakdown of the band from the intensity of Pornography, Smith basically released three singles in the opposite style in order to disengage himself from the baggage of the band. Those three singles, featuring a bunch of synth pop, were collected into this short record. So while not an album, it felt like an important collection of songs worth commenting on. The most famous to come off this one is probably The Lovecats, this bizarre jazz tune which became a hit. While most of the rest of the album is synth pop, it's not particularly bright. The Walk, Just One Kiss, and The Upstairs Room are decently brisk, but not happy. This is highlighted in the brilliant Lament, which really feels like a synthier version of The Drowning Man. Japanese Whispers represents an interesting period in the band's history, and is not to be missed.

Best tracks:
1. Lament
2. Let's Go to Bed
3. The Upstairs Room

In my opinion, The Top is the most underrated Cure album. I can understand why: It's weird as heck. This is Robert Smith basically on his own, tripping out of his mind, and creating music to reflect that. It is a crazy album both musically and lyrically. It doesn't really sound like anything else they've done either. Because of these things, it's unusual and disconcerting. But unlike many other records, there's really not a bad tune here. Every song is interesting and has something going for it. Probably the bigger problem is that there's nothing truly great on this album, which is unusual. There's no song which draws you in and compels you to listen. But it's a solid collection of weird, strange tunes.

Best tracks:
1. Piggy in the Mirror
2. Shake Dog Shake
3. The Caterpillar

Having assembled a true band, The Cure begins its most commercially successful period. It's clear why. The good parts of The Top were continued, and the bizarre stuff was dropped. Musically, having a real band improved the sound as well. The return of Simon Gallup on bass and introduction of Boris Williams on drums in particular gave the rhythm section a new pulse. The Head on the Door features a range of musical styles once again: upbeat, acoustic pop in Inbetween Days, flamenco in The Blood, rock in Push, funk in Screw, and a Faith throwback in Sinking. This album also varies in quality a bit more than its predecessor. While The Top was consistently good, this album has more excellent tracks, and a few that are not so great. So while this is considered a classic album, and The Top is not, I think they're actually of equal quality.

Best tracks:
1. Inbetween Days
2. Push
3. Sinking

This is The Cure's magnum opus, part 1. It's a huge album: 17 songs, and all of them are wildly different. In that sense, it's their White Album. The comparison doesn't stop there, either: with the exception of Just Like Heaven, the obvious pop hit, there isn't anything on this album that stands out to me as truly great. Nearly all of it is good, but there aren't certain tracks that I look forward to as I go. It's just all good. The Snakepit, the long, slow, exotic track in the middle tend to gets the most hate for being dull, but this is the Cure after all: slow and monotonous is what they do best! So I quite like. The one song I can't stand is conveniently the last one, Fight. Seems like silly arena rock, which doesn't befit the Cure at all. My only regret is that To the Sky isn't on here, which is what I consider one of their finest songs ever, let alone on this record. Nonetheless, Kiss Me... is The Cure doing everything they can at the peak of their game. It's where I turn when I want to indulge in them.

Best tracks:
1. Just Like Heaven
2. One More Time
3. How Beautiful You Are

Disintegration shares two similarities with their previous work: 1. It's long, and 2. It's their best. The differences, however, are key: while Kiss Me... was The Cure doing everything, this is The Cure doing what it is they do best: slow, dreary, entrancing. For an entire record. It should be telling that nearly half of my top 10 Cure songs come from this album. The individual songs are without exception top notch, but the way the album as a whole comes together is simply remarkable. It lulls you in with the gentle Plainsong, followed by the longing and romantic Pictures of You. A sense of urgency grows by Fascination Street, and then we reach the big 3 of the album. Prayers for Rain is the most dark and ominous track, which leads into the rain of The Same Deep Water as You, a long, sorrowful, somber tune, which finally leads us into the title track, literally breaking its way in suddenly with a sense of desperation and surprising speed. The emotional intensity reaches its climax here, before settling back down with the quiet and beautiful Homesick, and the final track, Untitled, which leaves us with a slow guitar solo that actually seems to disintegrate. If I had to pick just one album that basically does everything perfectly, it would be this one. Only Pornography comes close to achieving this unity of vision, mood, and quality.

Best tracks:
1. Pictures of You
2. Disintegration
3. Fascination Street

Where does a band go after back-to-back masterpieces? I don't think they really knew. They've never quite pulled it together like they did on those two albums. But all considered, Wish is actually an incredible way to follow it up. It sounds like The Cure doing Cure music. It's not as adventurous as Kiss Me, nor is it as miserably cohesive as Disintegration. It's just The Cure being themselves. The results are still quite good. We get some great upbeat music like High and the mega successful Friday I'm in Love, but also slower and sadder pieces, my favorites being Apart and To Wish Impossible Things. There's also some more typical alternative rock styled songs, such as Cut. In all, it may not leave as strong of an impression as the last two albums, but the songs themselves are very good overall, and the result is surprisingly worthy of following Disintegration.

Best tracks:
1. A Letter to Elise
2. From the Edge of the Deep Green Sea
3. Apart

Generally the most despised album of this band. It's easy to see why: Most of it simply doesn't sound like The Cure. Listeners will be lulled in by Want, a dark rocker which sounds just as we'd expect. But a lot of the rest is hard to swallow. I like Mint Car, for instance, but this is like The Cure trying to outhappy themselves. Strange Attraction is another light pop song, and it's catchy enough, but it sounds like the band trying to be a pop act. The 13th is totally Spanish influenced, which The Blood managed to pull off a few albums prior, but it turns out extremely weird. Gone is a flailing, off-beat lounge tune, and it's about my least favorite Cure song ever. There's a number of slower, acoustic pieces like This is a Lie and Jupiter Crash, but they just come off... boring. The Cure do slow and quiet well, but even that just can't seem to work here. Experimentation is nothing new to The Cure, but for some reason Wild Mood Swings derails completely. It's a long album, and there are some bright spots, but it's a tough listen all the way through.

Best tracks:
1. Want
2. Treasure
3. Mint Car

Seeing the poor reviews for Wild Mood Swings probably convinced the band to go back to what they do best: slow and somber. So we get Bloodflowers, an attempt to be Disintegration part 2. Let me say up front that it falls far short. But Robert Smith did manage to concoct some really great depressing tunes. Out of This World may be the last great Cure song. The album is at its best when its slow and sorrowful like this, and everything else is not so great. Watching me Fall is plenty slow, and it tries to be this epic, 10-minute rocker, but it just drags. Maybe Someday was a single, and many fans like it, but it just seems like predictable mid-tempo rock from The Cure. 39 is by far my least favorite, being another heavier but ultimately dull song. The lyrics are even about a lack of inspiration! There is no If... continues the trend from Wild Mood Swings of boring acoustic songs. The rest is mostly good, with a few standout tracks, but this definitely does not belong with Pornography and Disintegration.

Best tracks:
1. Out of This World
2. The Loudest Sound
3. The Last Day of Summer

Sometimes it feels simply like a lack of imagination which led to this becoming a self-titled album. The lyrics on this one are repetitive and awful, as a rule. But musically... you know, this is actually not terrible. The Cure features a heavy rock sound, and they actually do OK with it. Most of the songs are listenable and more interesting than the last few. Anniversary is the only slower tune that approaches the "classic sad Cure" sound, but it's one of my least favorites on the record. The worst goes to Never, which is repetitive and dull. But there are some really cool new tricks up The Cure's sleeve. Lost has Rob really belting it out over a powerful rock song. alt. end is more typical medium tempo rock, but this time it has just enough pep to be interesting. People are going to either love or hate The Promise, the ten minute closer to the album, but I'm going to go with love it. This album receives a lot of hate, since it's quite different from the usual Cure sound, but the songs are mostly good this time around.

Best tracks:
1. Lost
2. Labyrinth
3. alt. end

How to describe this one? Nothing about it really stands out. Like the last album, there's a couple of lame tracks, but most of the songs individually are pretty good. But once again, very little of it stands out as great. The style is pretty safe medium-tempo rock for most of the album. Other than Robert's voice, there's very little to connect this current band with the past. The Cure touches seem few and far between. Even The Walk, back when The Cure took a 180 into synth pop, sounds like them. Meanwhile, this sounds like some generic rock album more than anything by The Cure. As a result, while it's not bad, it just isn't something I play much. When I think of The Cure, I go back to their classic sounds, and this one is mostly forgotten.

Best tracks:
1. Underneath the Stars
2. The Perfect Boy
3. The Scream

Top 10 Songs

  1. Faith
  2. Charlotte Sometimes
  3. Pictures of You
  4. The Figurehead
  5. Disintegration
  6. Fascination Street
  7. To the Sky
  8. Cold
  9. Untitled
  10. Inbetween Days