July 1989 - RDL (Spain) (Translation below)
Still Mad (after so many years)
(By the photo) The Cure or a constant exercise of misleading. The first ones in confirming the category of “Cult Dinosaurs”, has returned with a LP - maybe the last by the group – that recovers them from the strange double album “Kiss Me” released two years ago, when they reached the best commercial output in their nonsense dark pop, very well prepared for the USA public, where they got the desired success. Now they look back and they take again the control of the situation with “Disintegration”, more worthy than could be expected at first sight. Robert Smith, which has been playing all over Spain recently, fights to recover the lost credibility, will he get it? Román F. Araños follows his career with a rising/falling/rising intensity depending on the value of the merits of the songs and the albums by the person in question. Discography included.
Some dreams are made of vinyl and carton. When someone enters in a record shop has the impression of being in front of many possibilities, where each one has the chance to choose the tools to build a fantasy made to measure: something similar to an imaginary bricolage. In any of these strange shops, where money can turn to dreams, there is a desk really full with a note that says “The Cure”. At least a dozen of those precious objects full of songs are waiting to be bought. And also, in many rooms of young people, there are images of five or six people not so young, with their faces in make-up and with their hair stood on end hanging on the walls; and in a shelf, there are also some, if not all, the records which were before in a desk with the note “The Cure” stuck on it. Even, it is possible to find a student’s folder on a table which affirms it as his greatest devotion in front of the world. And dependant on his state of mind, the folder’s owner may approach to the shelf and select an album with a grey cover or, maybe another one with red lips on it, and would let himself be carried by the music, sit on his favourite armchair. Details like this one have its importance.
It is not that things have changed too much. The Cure have been for much time what the terminology will classify as “Cult Band”, and will not stop being so despite the number of fans get increased. The important thing is the attitude, the one by the band and the one by their audience. Nevertheless, it is a little time ago since the band’s view of music is more precise, more centered: maybe this is the why of the refusal from those who see them as the sum of boredom and vanity. Their point of view is understandable, but not enough to undervalue people for being vain and boring. Especially if they enjoy being that way. I, at least, am convinced of that the three albums which are really basic in the “Cure Genre” (from the second one to the fourth one) are the best examples of the hypnotic power of music, of how it is possible to seduce imagination with a severe and pensive; for a little amount of money, hours and hours of introspection are guaranteed. Though it may sound ridiculous, I don’t see anything wrong in closing one’s eyes and listen from the inside; reproducing in words what one imagines is another matter. This is the usual mistake which, at that time, those who strived to get the attractiveness of The Cure for public knowledge used to make. It is difficult to avoid some usual images; e.g. a passer-by walking on an autumnal landscape under a cloaked sky; dead leaves, an abandoned house, splits on the walls caused by humidity, Etcetera. It takes much to take this seriously, this is the result of being vain and boring, which no one stands in the others. There is always consolation left if we think that scepticism impedes enjoying simple things; it is due to this that the elemental poetry which can be breathed in those albums to which I am referring to unchains in the same way fascination and despise, and it is also a reason which allows me to think about the shame that some early fans feel on bringing back to mind their lost devotion.
Whoever who has a minimal interest in the band cannot stop noticing how the predominant mood changes from one album to another; it is like if it were a slow approach, as if an observer were focusing his vision little by little up to the point of making it unsustainable (e.g. “Faith”, the song). All of this can be considered as exaggerating; however, it is right to explain the why of the end of the band after recording “Pornography”. I believe that during some years, behind the name of the band, behind their more or less mesmerizing music, and despite their stubborn anonymity, there was such a precise representation of aspects from the personality of their singer and composer, the famous Robert Smith. Though honesty is something that is very welcome in music, there is something strange in the fact of one’s feelings to be reproduces thousands of times in music if we think of these albums as an exhibition of feeling, but without doubt, we are dealing with an immodest exhibition.
Sometimes I think in how absurd it is that such an unpleasant album as “Pornography” can be found in all shops; if the cover were loyal to its content, no one could take it with bare hands. It has the curious incentive of being the first album which includes in its inlay card the lyrics for the songs. In the first album, there were not even the titles of the songs. It seems not to be a generous effort, but a sign of the lack of sense of ridiculous by the one who wrote them: it is an unlimited list of images of sex and death, of desire and violence. Most part of people wouldn’t write such things not even in their private journals, if there is someone who dares to write it. It seems like if the band would have begun sabotage against their own creation. The instrumental sound is much more aggressive, such as the biting guitar which twists in “One Hundred Years”, it is such a heavy song which fights against drums, which nails one’s feet to the ground. Other excesses: something that perhaps suggests the hinges of hell resounds in “Cold”, and in the songs that entitles and closes the album, a voice drowned in distortion sings “I must fight this sickness / and find a cure” which is the most similar to a gag that a composer has ever written. One would laugh if it were not because prefers to save the album and leave it for a better occasion. It cannot be considered as a “good album”, but at least has got something extraordinary: in comparison, all the attempts made before by Robert Smith in order to recover such level of tension would not be such convincing.
When this point was reached, the band got disintegrated. And it could be said that the fragments went very far, because in such unsuspected places in the world such as the country of sun and bullfighting still remembers in shame the pathetic efforts of some followers (for the youngest, some had funny names, such as La Décima Víctima [The Tenth Victim]). Few times the fashion phenomenon has been so big, up to the point of ridiculing what was good in the originals: a true parade of musical abortions which sank in their crucifixes and second-hand vampires.
And one fine day a great single by The Cure appeared. By the way, the image from the cover has its fun: we are dealing with a black and white picture in which the shadow from a blind projected on Robert Smith’s face hides part of it, and a couple of eyes full of darkness can be seen vaguely; it can be said that they even smile behind the shadow line. It is “Let’s go to Bed”, such a touching song as the first steps of an ill person after such a long convalescence; it is much more than this; it is a fresh song, sensual, and danceable. It means the recover of pop sensibility which to impelled most part of their little indecisive first LP, though it is not the same young energy of “Grinding Halt” or “Fire in Cairo”. However, undoubtedly, Robert Smith (who at that time was as much as saying The Cure) had more freedom of movements; almost without noticing it, he started to walk in the yellow floor tiles which leads to where pop dreams come true. The songs that came next, till “The Lovecats”, were full of new ideas; it was as if Robert Smith would have discovered his own rules in “commercial” issues, a combination of childish psychedelic, lips in lipstick, and a capricious sense of humour: a charming after-punk clown, eccentric enough in order to not to appear trivial, and trivial enough to not go out of the pop world. The music video that illustrated ”The Lovecats”, seems to be the result of a occupational therapy session for gone-too-far musicians; though the song is funny and vital, deep inside there is something excessive which is obvious when listening to “Mr. Pink Eyes”, the extra track from the 12”.
What came next seemed to prove that confusion was growing: an irregular LP, paradoxically entitled “The Top”, maybe the result of “trying out” foretold in “Blue Sunshine”, a failed project that under the name of The Glove, joined Robert Smith and Steve Severin (Siouxsie and the Banshees). It can be said that, from time to time, after a period of being a pop star, a strange feeling of ashamed overwhelms Smith, such as if he remembered that of the “I am a Cult Hero” (a solo single which appeared as credit of The Cult Hero) and would throw himself to pursue his reputation of after-punk symbol. Excluding the pop songs (three), the rest is a mixture of not much accurate revisions in the style of “Pornography”, and fill-in stuff. Little time after, the hired band would began a tour from what “Concert” was extracted, a live album whose better virtue is breaking the venerable tradition of the discographic manufacturing: that of the boring-double-live album-due to the lack of funds-or inspiration. This one, at least, is not double. It is like if a group of a little slovenly civil servants would have to take charge of the instruments in a routinely substitution. Not even Smith himself seemed to be really interested in it; another guitarist did his tiring work of singing and playing at the same time, this band could barely inspire more than weariness and indifference; it was the perfect moment for the most devoted fan to desert to the world of pop bands. During some time, the constant coming and going of members in the band was about the band to become an employment agency. Luckily, the band which recorded the following single could be perfectly be called The Cure, due to the fact that joined the three basic members (Smith/Gallup/Tolhurst); “In-between Days” sounds like it if had been recorded by a true band, though one has the impression of that that band could also be New Order, so the bass as drums reminds so much to “Dreams never end”. Despite all of this, it is an advance of the LP that came next, “The Head on the Door”, which came to be such a great anthology ¡ of pop songs, and it is, undoubtedly, the most reasonable album in relation to both style and order of the songs since they recorded “Pornography”. There is a little bit from the previous albums, but measured: some from Cure’81 (“A Night like this”), from Cure’84 (“Six Different Ways” or “Kyoto Song”, which would not remain on “Japanese Whispers”), and a brand new song, if I am right, “Close to Me”, the last creation by the band till then. It is a whispering and playful song, as nice as the music video that illustrated it, in which Smith got his obsession to get drowned, coming true in images, this time with the band, all in a wardrobe recklessly set in the border of a cliff. What is strange is that they succeed in making it funny. By the way, the following exercise can be entertaining for true fanatics: count how many times the word “drown” (and derivatives from it) appears in Smith’s texts. The persevering ones can go on with “mouth”, or “hands”.
The release of “The Head on the Door” meant that they got a new generation of fans, seduced so much for their eccentric music as for their appearance. It is the perfect moment for the delirious hair styles, of the posters, and the covers in the magazines for fans. It was clear that the process in increasing their number of fans was on., and it seemed that no one could stop it not even - supposedly- the less sexual scandal which one can think of – not even – that the following album was a copycat of the album “Metal Machine Music”. One more, the heavy promotion was about to achieve his aim; it is necessary to reassure the investment, estimate the calculations, and choose a football playground the biggest the best. If the charming side of the moments does not fail, the fans would not mind to be treated like insects to feel the band more than watching or hear them. Maybe that moment in which so many lighters shake at the same time, as if they were little trembling-with-emotion souls, is enough for them. I remember pretty well the concert The Cure gave during the tour from 1987, and how the beach impact of “Why can’t I be You?”, become such a different thing, much more terrible. Facing such impact, we may wait the band to be Cyclops of ten meters in height, according to their scenery and their audience. Though they played their classic songs, there was something which was failing: the size. It is not surprising of we consider that the tour which followed the album “Kiss Me kiss Me kiss Me”, an excessive project from its very beginning; it is a mediocre double album, which could have been an excellent “extended play” of commercial and summer songs. I do not recommend anyone to listen to anything beyond “One more Time”; in fact, I doubt anyone to say that this album is bad because its level of marketing (“they have been sold!”); however, it is clear enough that the most difficult songs are the ones who feature the album as a whole. Another example of the incompatibilities of the double albums, which appeared in the 70’s with the excuse of letting the musician’s creativity to get spread, with the results everyone knows. One should not allow the singles to disappear.
The experiments in “Kiss Me” remind of that The Cure cannot be a famous band such as many others. At the end of the day, they proclaimed their difference, the cult band who stays beyond the frivolity of the successful singles. We’ll see what happens with “Disintegration”, which is undoubtedly the most similar to “Faith”, that one can expect of them up to this point.
Robert Smith or The Spiderman’s Mouth
“Technique”, by New Order, has disappointed me; it was not what I expected to hear. I liked “The Perfect Kiss”, it was a great song. “Technique” is terrible. I like several songs such as “All the Way”, which is so alike to “Just like Heaven”. I don’t know if they have recorded it so intentionally because I was accused by them to copy them. When I recorded “In-between Days”, they said it sounded in the same way as “Everything’s gone Green”. Maybe I’ve followed the sound because I liked it, but “All the Way”, it’s note by note, “Just like Heaven”. I’ve followed them – and I’ve bought- all the albums by New Order since “Ceremony”, but “Technique” sounds so excessively to technology…
When Joy Division gave us a call being in the Marquee in 1979 they were absolutely brilliant in comparison to any other band. They and Wire were the strongest ones on a scenery. I still think that “Love will tears us apart” is one of the best songs of all times, and a band able to do something like that is a band who can surprise, though it is from time to time. I also had faith in Echo and the Bunnymen, I thought they’d record anything listenable, but in the end they’ve faded. I’ve always hated Simple Minds and I don’t like U2 either. I love Elvis Costello’s new album. About the brand new I think that what Sinead O’Connor and The Sundays do is interesting. Sugarcubes? Their LP has two good songs and one great, nothing else.
Spiders are one of my fears to which I’ve never adapted. Big spiders, with thin and long legs, which they seem to be about breaking, make me feel really strange. When I was young I was scared to death with spiders and I used to imagine they were on my bed. I tried to overcome my phobia in the most normal way: approaching to them and forcing myself to take them. Now I feel able to take a spider, even one of those big and hairy ones. However, I cannot stand seeing them near my face. Tim Pope (director of The Cure videos) wanted to persuade me to fill a bed in spiders in one of the videos. Of course I denied that, though he keeps on thinking it would have been wonderful; he even got in contact with the caretaker of spiders from the Zoo fin London.
“Disintegration” has been so easy to make. We could have been able to do three LP´s. After “Kiss Me” I wondered about the possibilities of the next step. After releasing “Kiss Me”, I saw myself busy with promotional issues, making stupid things such as going to Japan ten days and giving stupid interviews. All of that won’t happen again. What come next would have to be different, more lively. The only positive aspect from “Kiss Me” was that everyone felt obliged to, at last, admitting The Cure, especially in USA, where at last we stopped being a cult band and we became really popular.
“Disintegration”, would probably be the last album by The Cure. Probably. I thought just the same about “Kiss Me”, I didn’t think the band would work again… What comes next is a solo album by me, and album which has been recorded through the years, very simple and minimalist; based-on-piano songs, cello, guitar… though the true reason for me to record a solo album is that three years ago I was taken a great picture of mine, the perfect picture of Robert Smith, and the only way to use it is recording a solo album…
Quotations compiled by Carlos Calvo.
Difficult and irregular, somehow ma kind of music beyond one’s possibilities, up to the point that the exposition of feelings goes almost grotesque. However, it’s excessive enough to be recommended for those ones who like the musical representation of what’s violent.
The ideal compilation of songs (8) for disperse so much transcendental and dreadful atmosphere. Jump madly in your room while listening to “Let’s go to Bed”, dream about a sensual summer dream with ”The Upstairs Room”, and, unusually, throw yourself from a bridge and drown such as in “Lament”. Much greater than the mini LP “The Upstairs Room”, which here is completed.
In the end, it only contains three songs: “Dressing up”, “Birdmad Girl”, and “The Caterpillar”.
Concert: The Cure Live
No one should pay a penny for this. Buying the cassette is justified because it contains the rarities Curiosity: (Killing the Cat) Cure Anomalies 1977-1984, among them a curious version from their beginning (“Heroin Face”), and another one a little bit boring (“Forever”), which Smith usually plays when the audience is terrible fanatic.
The Head on the
Not all the songs are so inspired as “Close to Me”, or “in-between Days”, but it is an album which can be listened to without rising the gramophone needle; by making pop songs the eccentric sense of the band is not lost, which as soon as they use flamingo sounds as they copy themselves without any problem. There are some unexpected guitar sections, such as the rotund chord in “A Night like this”, or “Push”, or the frenetic acoustics of “In-between Days”.
Standing on a Beach – The
The definitive collection of singles (13). In the cassette, it includes the 12 b-sides; among them, it is worth listening to “Throw your Foot”, a frenetic and mad song from “The Top” sessions, better than the whole LP. Besides, remembering “Charlotte Sometimes”, a single, only available in 33 PPM in the live take from “Concert”, and which resumes the atmosphere from “Faith” in a few minutes of majestic sythetisers.
Kiss Me Kiss Me Kiss
Me (Fiction, 1987)
Too much long, too much varied, too much mediocre.
THANKS to: Sharon @ Charlotte Sometimes for the TRANSLATION.
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