Wednesday, January 16, 2008

No. 326: Disintegration


Band: The Cure
Album: Slowhand
Why Rolling Stone gets it right: Like David Bowie, it's difficult to understate the Cure's influence on fashion and the overall musical culture of the 1980s. The gothic look largely came from the mind of Robert Smith, his powdery makeup and ridiculous hair. Oh, also, they made some decent music.
Why Rolling Stone gets it wrong: Like Bowie, the band's influence on music isn't groundbreaking. They were mostly just an '80s band, albeit one that did tremendously sad songs.
Best song: "Lovesong" is, probably, the band's best work.
Worst song: "Prayers for Rain" isn't great.
Is it awesome?: Nope.

The Cure always occupied the same place in my mind as the Smiths. They're mopey English bands from the 1980s. The people I knew in college that liked them were annoying and dressed like idiots. This is probably foolish, as the Smiths were more political and jangly, with the Cure being a more straightforward '80s band.

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I used to work with a woman who was a fan of the cure (Actually, two women, but we'll just deal with the one I actually liked). This woman sat about five feet from my desk and would listen to her iPod at a ridiculous volume. I could identify much of her music simply from how loud her headphones were.

She was (and still is, I assume) a very sweet woman with pretty good taste in music. The ebst way I could describe her is by saying she was in a sorority in college, but was the cool chick in her sorority. She'd totally talk to the college radio dorks and the engineering students.

Anyway, one day, I'd seen one of those commercials for "Alternative Rock Hits" or something. This particular set had 311 doing a cover of "Lovesong." If I remember correctly, 311 had a minor hit with this cover.

Now, if you're even remotely familiar with my music tastes, you can correctly assume that I find 311 to be a terrible, awful band. I sorta assume that everyone hates 311. So, I turned to my co-worker and asked her "Hey, did you know that 311 does a cover of 'Lovesong?'"

"Oh, yeah. I love their cover. I'm a big 311 fan."

Speechless.

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With all that said, I've turned a little bit after listening to "Disintegration" a few times. It's a pretty good record. "Pictures of You" is pretty, though long. "Lullaby" has a cool arrangement and the synth strings in "Last Dance" are decidedly '80s, yet still warm. "Lovesong" itself is the type of song that works on repeated listens and the title track is similar.

Smith's vocals are touched and aching. It's not hard to feel for the dude, even if he wasn't really that sad when the album was recorded.

Overall, it's a much better album than I anticipated. while I still dislike the Smiths, I might be turning into a closet Cure fan.

1 comment:

padraig said...

I like both the Cure and, to a lesser extent the Smiths, but I definitely understand when other people really dislike them. They share the same major flaw - you really have to buy into their particular schtick for it work. For the Smiths it's the overwhelming twee/jangle deal + Morrissey's warbling earnestness. They're pretty much a singles artist for me - they wrote a dozen or so great tunes but I've never been able to stand them through an entire LP.

The Cure if anything require even more suspension of disbelief - on the other hand, and unlike Morrissey, they're very much in on the joke. They can also get away with more because in my estimation the music stands up - not all of it, as chunks of their back catalogue are pretty sketchy, but their best work is great. I think you're selling their influence a little short as well - I think that the slower, more atmospheric side of their work (Faith and Pornography especially) was definitely one of the inspirations for shoegaze, especially given that My Bloody Valentine was a goth band until like 1986 or so. Anyways, keep up the good work.