You want to wallow in your depression with people who sound like they invented the concept? Gotcha covered.
You want to be cheered out of your downpour of doldrums with candy-coated pop confections? Can do.
The Cure came to life in post-punk England rocking a sparse, bleak sound that occasionally touched on something accessible. But after their debut in 1979, each subsequent album turned progressively darker and more claustrophobic, to the point where they made Joy Division sound like ABBA. In doing so, however, The Cure helped establish the goth rock genre, a style based on gloom and doom and minor chords issued forth from inside a tomb.
After the group’s 1982 goth-terpiece, Pornography, lead singer and songwriter Robert Smith found he’d painted himself into a bit of a corner. Even Spinal Tap learned that at some point you can’t get blacker than black (“It’s like, how much more black could this be? And the answer is … none. None more black.”) He needed to try something different.
Smith decided to write a one-off pop song, and if that failed, blow up the band. But that single made the charts. So he tried it again. Top 20 in the UK. Once more for luck. Top 10 smash. After figuring out how to balance the light and the dark, the angel wings and the demon-y things, The Cure’s next few albums sold millions and they became one of the biggest groups on the planet.
So dust my lemon lies with powder pink and sweet. Here’s the least you need to know:
Pornography (1982) Not the path you want to start with. Unless you like abandoning hope. And melodies. But many hardcore fans consider this The Cure’s best album and it’s a cornerstone of the goth canon, so at the very least you need to check it out for historical purposes.
Disintegration (1989) Epic and hypnotic sad-scapes. The dark and dreamy melancholia of the love-lorn and world-worn. Also happens to be their critical and commercial peak.
Staring At The Sea (1979-1985) Collected singles from the first chapter of The Cure’s career, tracing their journey from upstart punks outside of London to the beginnings of world domination. One of the finest albums of the 80s and a must-listen for understanding the UK music scene of the time.
Their second single turns out to be a classic, but somehow not a hit:
From the goth years. The happiest song on Pornography:
Immediately following the goth years. The most unexpected song The Cure could have possibly recorded:
Apparently, once you pop, you can’t stop:
Striking a balance: