A Cretin’s Guide to the Cure

They’ve gone from weeping ‘sensitive types’ to goth ‘sensitive types’ to Dark Lord ‘sensitive types’ to poppy ‘sensitive types’ to who gives a damn anymore ‘types’ in the space of 33 years. Seriously, I stopped caring in 1987, or around the time of Kiss Me Kiss Me Kiss Me. The song that made me seek out greener pastures?

‘Why Can’t I Be You?’

That song was everywhere and everyone and their grandbag was listening to it, and I was in a place, musically speaking, that mandated I give up on any band that became that popular. If it was that popular then it couldn’t be good. They sold out! They’re no longer edgy! But the truth of the matter was, since I’m being honest here, that it made me feel a little pissed off that they’d made it, commercially speaking. My little secret had gotten out and I guess I subconsciously sabotaged my love for this once little, now HUGE, band from Crawley, England. I liked some of the songs on Kiss Me…, but in hindsight I didn’t give it much of a chance.

I recently dug out some of this band’s back catalog to see if the passage of time had softened my stance. And it did. A lot. So much so that over the weekend I purchased the Deluxe Edition of Kiss Me Kiss Me Kiss Me. While semi bloated it hasn’t aged a day since the original release date, and some of the more subtle (some would say lengthy) intros to the more moody numbers now seem essential to the flow of the album. Yes, it is still rife3 with pop songs, but the older I get the more I appreciate the simple joys of a well written pop song, so that’s no bad thing. What once were deficits are now assets, that kind of thing. The demos on disk II are particularly fascinating and more than a little bit enlightening, but not essential. The album (originally released as a double) and its contents remains the reason for shelling out the cash.

The album prior to this, The Head On The Door (1985) remains my personal favorite. It’s got the best New Order song they never wrote on it with In Between Days, a blistering flamenco goth (!) track (The Blood), and their bounciest number up to that point with Close To Me. There’s the obligatory “I know why you weep alone in your bedroom late into the night” track (A Night Like This), but this doesn’t take away from the magnificence of the remainder of the songs that fill out the album. As someone noted, “It’s the only cure album you could listen to at the beach”.

Disintegration is rightfully noted as a masterpiece, and is my third favorite cure album. To me, even after being remastered, it sounds a little muddy. However, some of the tracks remain favorites: Love Song, Plainsong, Pictures Of You, Lullaby and Fascination Street are classics. And like any Cure album there’s a little sub-standard filler here and there, but on this album there’s not too much of that.

1980’s Seventeen Seconds ranks fourth. When people talk about the whining and moping Cure they are referring to this album, and the follow up (Pornography). To me these two albums go hand in hand, signaling a “new Cure” sound, more beholden to Joy Division than the Buzzcocks. A Forest is my favorite Cure track of all time, followed by The Walk, which was released on a limited edition EP around 1983. Seventeen Seconds is an album that needs time to grow on you (like a fungus), and Pornography is a decent into madness but ultimately hobbled by too many atmospherics. Faith contains one classic in Primary, but other than that…meh.

Boys Don’t Cry, the 1st Cure album most North Americans were introduced to, is totally different than the Cure we all came to know. Angular pop along the lines of early XTC, but nonetheless contained some great songs like Boys Don’t Cry and Jumping Someone Else’s Train.

1984’s The Top is a weird mixed bag. Batting 6th in the track order is The Caterpillar, and it is every bit as good as anything they’ve done. Opener Shake Dog Shake is a good ‘un, as is the title track, but like Faith it is a little lackluster and would foreshadow the blasé 90’s records.

Truth be told, you can get all you really need, all the best bits, from the 1986 compilation “Staring At The Sea”. That said, you need to own, in their entirety, The Head On The Door, Kiss Me Kiss Me Kiss Me and Disintegration. For the non-obsessive these 4 albums are all the Cure you will ever need.