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Saturday, October 20, 2012

Is This Stranger than I Thought?

(On the Pop Sensibilities of The Cure)
by aLfie vera mella

I'm aware that many Cure fans and also music reviewers always regard the Dark Trilogy of Cure albums (Pornography, 1982; Disintegration, 1989; and Bloodflowers, 2000) as the best and most seminal of all the works of The Cure--in fact, even Robert Smith himself feels this way too--as he is very open about it in various interviews.

The Dark Trilogy of The Cure: Pornography, Disintegration, and Bloodflowers

However, considering my personal musical taste, I don't share that general preference. Although I like the dark, gloomy, and gothic side of The Cure (and Postpunk and New Wave music, for that matter), I like better its lighter and colorful but more musically complex side--much layered, textured, "overpolished," and uses a lot of melodies and instruments. I may be a very introspective person and could be reflective, somber, and solitary at times especially when I'm in a poetic mood; but for the most part, my personality is more in touch with its positive, light, and colorful side; and that applies also to my taste in music.

The lush tetralogy of Cure albums: The Head on the Door, Kiss Me Kiss Me Kiss Me, Wish, and Wild Mood Swings

Having said that, to me the best Cure albums are not the so-called dark trilogy but the tetralogy of well-produced and much layered and orchestrated Cure albums--The Head on the Door, 1985; Kiss Me Kiss Me Kiss Me, 1987; Wish, 1992; and Wild Mood Swings, 1996. In these albums where I find Robert Smith and the rest of The Cure most in touch with musical architecture and their pop sensibilities.

Structure-wise and instrument-wise, "Six Different Ways" is my favorite song from The Head

My favorite song from Kiss Me is not "Just like Heaven" but "How Beautiful You Are...."

I get so euphorically high every time I listen to "High," my favorite song from Wish.

The highlights of the tetralogy albums are "Inbetween Days, "Kyoto Song," "The Blood," "Six Different Ways," Push," "Close to Me," and "A Night like This," from The Head; "Catch," "Why Can't I Be You?", "How Beautiful You Are," "Just like Heaven," "Hot Hot Hot," "Like Cockatoos," and "The Perfect Girl,' from Kiss Me; "High," "From the Edge of the Deep Green Sea," "Wendy Time," "Doing the Unstuck," "Friday I'm in Love," "Trust," and "A Letter to Elise"; and "The 13th," "Strange Attraction," "Mint Car," "Round & Round & Round," and "Return."

This is what I really love about The Cure's music--the melange of instruments playing against each other in a mellifluous delight! "The 13th" is my best pick from Wild Mood Swings.

Both the self-titled Cure album of 2004 and 2009's 4:13 Dream have their lush moments--"End of the World," "(I Don't Know What's Going) On," and "Taking Off" from the former; and "Underneath the Stars" and "The Only One" from the latter; but placed alongside the rest of The Cure's entire discography, they pale in comparison--both lyrically and structurally.

The last two albums of The Cure: The Cure and 4:13 Dream

By the time The Cure got to Wish, many fans have already written them off their radars; not me--I stood by the band through all its musical adventures and continue to to this day. The video of "Taking Off," from 2004's self-titled illustrates my feelings every time I listen to my favorite Cure songs. 

Having been a passionate listener of The Cure (and the entire Postpunk / New Wave genre, for that matter), finding the most infectious song in an album is an easy task for me. In 4:13 Dream, choosing "The Only One" as the highlight of the album is not difficult.

Final Note
To this day I am still waiting for the next Cure album that would follow the musicality and production style of the four albums I dubbed as "the lush tetralogy." But judging from the recent interviews of Robert Smith, this wish of mine seems still far from getting realized; it looks like Smith himself is still waiting for all his muses to gather altogether once again 'round his nest-haired head--to inspire him to make another lush and colorful masterpiece of a musical painting.

The rest of The Cure's studio discography are Three Imaginary Boys (1979), Seventeen Seconds (1980), Faith (1981), and The Top (1984),


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