Sunday, April 6, 2014

Classic Album Review: The Cure - Disintegration (1989)

I can’t pinpoint a specific time, a date, or even a year, but at some point in the mid-to-late Eighties, I found myself no longer listening to the music of The Cure on any regular basis. The band had long dominated my world of music consumerism, and (back then) only New Order could rival it in terms of numbers so far as my “music collection” was concerned.

It wasn’t really a conscious thing, a deliberate decision, or anything quite like that, but somewhere along the way I simply ceased to care. I guess I just felt sure that the band at its best had already been captured on those early albums, and to a set of ears fast becoming attuned to the disco-ball excesses of club and house music, much of the band’s post-1985 work was starting to come across as little more than lightweight throwaway pop fare.

It took me a year or two to realise it, but Disintegration was different, and it was an album to pull me (temporarily) back into the fold. This album finds Robert Smith right back to his dark goth-flavoured best, and Disintegration stands as a major return to form … albeit one that turned out to be rather fleeting in the end.

The more high-profile tracks on here will be well known to most – even non-Cure enthusiasts; ‘Pictures Of You’, ‘Lovesong’, ‘Lullaby’, and ‘Fascination Street’ having all been given considerable exposure both at the time of the album’s release and over subsequent years.

All four cuts are decent enough examples of what can be found on Disintegration, but it is perhaps the lesser known tracks that really impress the most – which is always a good sign. ‘Last Dance’ is classic Smith and sounds as though it wouldn’t be out of place on either Faith or Pornography, ditto the intense ‘Prayers For Rain’ and the epic ‘The Same Deep Water As You’, both of which are superb.

While the theme and the general feel of the album is essentially heavy and foreboding, its excellent production ensures it remains fully accessible to even the most casual of fans. Even with lyrical emphasis placed on the cryptic, and on relationships and matters of the heart, seldom does it plunge the suicidal depths of the aforementioned Pornography album.

All of the usual Cure markers are present and accounted for – multi-layered keyboards, trademark pulsing bass, and of course, Smith’s excellent guitar work with its heavy reliance on the careful art of repetition. All the while Smith’s unmistakable vocal towers above what is quite often a wall of sound. The polish applied in terms of production provides the perfect finishing touch.

Disintegration stands as a snapshot of just where Smith was at in 1989 … able to embrace his natural “pop” instincts without compromising the “traditional” sound of The Cure. Recommended.
Prayers For Rain:

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