Monday, March 31, 2014

Classic Album Review: The Cure - Pornography (1982)

Having been a fan of everything The Cure released prior to Pornography, I recall being fairly quick off the mark to pick up a copy as soon as it came out. I also remember feeling a little underwhelmed and generally pretty disappointed with it, and my opinion on the album hasn’t changed much in the intervening years.

I guess what I appreciated most about The Cure’s earliest stuff was the simple structure of many of the songs, and an almost minimalist approach to making pop music. Yet with each new album from early 1979 through to 1981 – from Boys Don’t Cry through Seventeen Seconds to Faith – the band’s sound became much fuller and increasingly more complex. By album number four, Pornography, simplicity and modest pop forms were evidently the last things on Robert Smith’s mind.
I don’t mind the darker angst-ridden stuff (some would say I live for it, even) – see reviews for Seventeen Seconds and Faith – but Pornography always felt like one suicidal step too far; too dense, too bleak, with too much gloomy synth, and a touch too much wailing or generally indecipherable vocals. Maybe it’s just a production thing, but it doesn’t work for me.

I realise Pornography is the album most likely to feature at the very summit of many Cure fans’ “best ever” lists, I’ve even seen it cited as Smith’s masterpiece, but it still rates well down the list for me; ahead of some of the band’s more frivolous and lightweight pop excursions certainly, but below the likes of Seventeen Seconds, Disintegration, Faith, Boys Don’t Cry, The Head On The Door, and even Bloodflowers.

Nonetheless, ‘The Hanging Garden’ remains one of the band’s best singles, ‘One Hundred Years’ is a strong opener, and ‘A Strange Day’ is another obvious highlight on Pornography. The rest I could probably live without.


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