The Cure's "Seventeen Seconds" is a kind of 'proto-Goth' calling card, the point where spikey, jumpy late Seventies New Wave starts to transform itself into the genre of Gothic rock that so characterised much of the Eighties. Here the energetic, boisterous New Wave Cure slows to an introspective, self-pitying and anxiety-ridden sulk, permanently indulging an adolescent fixation with the morbid and macabre. By now Robert Smith and his not so happy band are sounding like the Buzzcocks on Mogadon.
The nightmarish classic single taken from this album "A Forest" is a perfect blueprint for student bedsit angst; in my mind it is the greatest thing The Cure ever delivered, sublime in its ability to evoke in music a taut, tense state of dread. The other tracks can't match this panic-stricken epic and on first hearing could be easily dismissed as inferior variations on the same theme, with lots of repetitive, plodding drum patterns, snatches of discordant piano and Robert Smith's trademark weary vocal laments.
The sleeve to "Seventeen Seconds" sums up the music within very well - downbeat, doomy and dank. There's little in the way of contrast or colour, just a relentless grey dirge-like procession of melancholy. Yet believe me, compared to the onslaught of anguish in what was to follow a couple of year's later in "Pornography", this album is a stroll in the park. It does make you wonder though. All this gloom... maybe that is what living in the tedium of suburban (Creepy) Crawley did to the young mind of Robert Smith and his glum chums. Still, "Seventeen Seconds" promised great things for the rest of the decade - and The Cure didn't disappoint.