on 6 December 2011
I should start by saying it has taken me nearly 25 years to love this album. A friend introduced me to The Cure in 1987 and I loved them. 17 Seconds is still one of my favourite albums of all time. I got hold of all the albums and loved them all instantly except this one. I just could not get on with it - too dirty, too noisy and too intense. I don't think it helped that I had a second hand tape of the album which I remember sounding so murky it was difficult to listen to.
When the remastered albums came out I decided to finally replace my old tape and LP versions of the early albums (yes I still listen to tapes - you can look them up on Wikipedia) and bought Pornography to give it another try - and was completely blown away!
How did I miss the incredible beauty of this album all those years ago. The relentless pounding drums - so high in the mix they feel like they are in your head. The intensity of Smith's lyrics, the wonderful guitar and keyboard tunes. And then the overwhelming experience of the final track. Distorted backwards voices like an ESP recording and TV and film voices heard through a wall with the most relentless repetitive drum pattern of all overlaid with slab like keyboards and feedback guitars - wonderful!
This album is not an easy listen - but it is truly wonderfully unnlike anything else you have heard.
on 15 October 2008
I never rated the Cure when they first started. All that stuff about jumping other people's trains, killing middle-easterners and not crying 'cos you're a boy didn't do much for me.
However a mate persuaded me to go and see them on the "Faith" tour and I was blown away. Bought "Faith" the next day and, when "Pornography" came out, I just had to have it (made even better by the childish pleasure of asking my parents to buy me "Pornography" for my birthday).
I loved "Faith" and I loved Joy Division, the Banshees, and the rest of the post-punk crowd, but this was something else.
With an opening line of "It doesn't matter if we all die" and a closing line of "I must fight this sickness, find a cure", and a whole range of (un)healthy emotions and obsessions explored inbetween, this was just the thing to listen to for those of us who didn't buy into the emptiness of New Pop and the Thatcher Dream. Lots of people thought it was morbid and depressing - more fool them. It made us feel more alive than ever.
And as for the music ... you'll find no better soundtrack to a slasher movie scripted by William Burroughs and Jean-Paul Sartre than this. Now if only someone would make that movie.
More than 20 years on, I bought it again on CD. It was just as good as before, in fact if anything better for now being out of its historical context.
A timeless record. Now, where's my lipstick and face paint......
on 2 November 2012
There are a few great English things which I truly recommend to anyone in their teens. 'Oh, whistle and I'll come to you, my lad' by M R James (watch the BBC version if reading isn't your thing). The first Clash and Dexys albums. And this. Completely uncompromising, cathartic. Still leaves me breathless.
on 6 August 2009
"Gothic rock" isn't easy music to listen to. Put on a CD of "My Dying Bride" or anything this side of the more synthesizer-heavy "Bauhaus"-like goth music and most of us will find ourselves struggling to make it to the end track without at least taking a break to sniff some flowers or something.
Dark, depressing and dramatic, "Pornography" will come as a shock to the system for anybody who associates Robert Smith with "Friday I'm in love". Each of The Cure's 'phases' have produced great music, peaking with 1989's epic "Disintegration", but Pornography represents by far the darkest place The Cure have visited.
Opening with the heart-stopping "One Hundred Years", Smith opens with the line "Doens't matter if we all die", and the tone for the album is set. Smith, Gallup and Tolhurst will walk you through the valley of the shadow of death without so much as a stop to catch your breath.
If "Friday I'm in love" or The Cure's other happy-go-lucky material is your bag (I'll admit, it's also my bag, I love everything they've done) then buying this may be a huge mistake. On the other hand, it could be one of the best musical purchases you make. Dark, powerful goth rock which is actually worth listening to.
on 6 June 2008
It's a shame in a way that nowadays this album seems to fit in with a vast amount of similarly aggressive and agonising music. On it's release it was the first of it's kind and to describe its impact as harrowing would be a serious understatement.
Seminal it undoubtably was but where other bands strive to achieve the same effect they fail because 'Pornography' is so sincere. Only Nirvana reached the level of outright desperation that brutally stabs out of this recording. But cacophony in itself is not enough. These are really great songs produced by a man who was driving himself way too hard.
In amongst the relentlessly attacking sound, evidence of a great songwriter emerges in moments of astonishing beauty. This is why the Cure's more recent releases fail. Smith was still discovering his ability and wrote as a man in some kind of genuine purgatory. Now, he's wealthy and comfortable and no matter how hard he digs, the well of desparate memories and wondrous revelations have run dry.
So considering it's utterly uncompromising sound it's not surprising that this shocking album didn't sell on release. It left people either stunned (like watching someone having a nervous breakdown at a party) or alienated, after all, it's predecessors were low key and fanciful in comparison.
It marked a change in Smith's life. Although the following album had it's moments of crushing beauty he moved firmly into the land of the 'Lovecats', commercial success and some kind of weird happiness. And unlike Kurt Cobain there really was a happy ending.
on 17 June 2014
Before The Cure became known for gothic new wave pop songs like 'Just Like Heaven' and 'Lovesong', they emerged from the UK punk scene alongside Joy Division and Siouxsie and the Banshees with their brand of gothic post-punk with thunderous bass riffs and tingling moody guitar melodies showcased on albums like Seventeen Seconds and Faith. Their fourth record Pornography is a magnification of that sound filled with ten haunting tracks of utter doom and gloom. From the opening song, 'One Hundred Years', this album feels like a musical nightmare with Robert Smith's deadpan vocals really capturing the atmospheric tones alongside his tantalising guitar playing and Simon Gallup's incredible bass. 'The Hanging Garden' is the closest song on the album to be considered radio friendly with less downtuned guitars present. Each track is incredible and adds to the bleakness of the album. Whilst it's not their best album which is Disintegration for me, it's still a classic record and proof that The Cure are one of the best bands of all time.
on 22 April 2007
coming at a time when punk rock and new wave was being strangled be newglamromantisicko 80s pop crap(spandau ballet, duran duran yuk!), the cure were becoming increasingly black.each album was better, darker, than the previous. this was not 'goth', this was undefinable unique and always uplifting, much in the same way as joy division's 'closer', or killing joke's self named debut. unfortunately this was the last of this particularly brilliant period. 'pornography' and 'faith' gave way to the more sales inspired , though not bland, poptunes like 'lovecats'. i have continued to marvel at this pulsing, mesmerising genius of an album since it was first released, and it is still fresh, and inspiring. this is the cure.
on 24 July 2007
The Cure are a band of many faces, and 1982's `Pornography' is one of the ugliest. Recorded during a time of band turmoil and drug abuse, the results are abrasive and punishing, but not without their charms. One particularly note-worthy aspect of this album is the way it is mixed. Most albums are mixed in such a way as to accommodate the various instruments within the song. On `Pornography', an instrument will come into the mix as loudly as possible, and then stay that way as everything else is packed on top of it. So, drums pound mercilessly, bass grinds and throbs, and guitars swirl and churn, all at odds with each other, but also strangely complimentary.
The mood of the album is dark and heavy, and it feels as though some kind of emotional battle is being played out throughout the grooves of the record. Despair and hopelessness are key themes to the album, and many of the songs feature disturbing imagery about being trapped in certain circumstances, but being powerless to do anything about it.
But, as with everything about the Cure, first appearances are often disturbing. Yes, the album is heavy and oppressive, but it is also melodic and inventive. All of these songs (with the exception of the title track) have very memorable tunes. `The Hanging Garden', a harrowing and disturbing song, actually managed to be a chart hit for the Cure when it was released as a single, which give some idea of how the band managed to make their brand of misery accessible.
The other highlights on the album are the opening track, `One Hundred Years', which sets the scene perfectly for the rest of the album, conjuring up a palatable sense of dread, and the churning, spiralling guitar part from `A Strange Day' which always threatens to go over the edge, but somehow never does.
on 20 November 2014
I can’t believe how good this still sounds after over three decades. My memory of it was of something huge and dark and muddy....but the muddiness, it transpires, was due to the fact that – as a cash-strapped teenager – I had rented the album from the record library (do you remember RECORDS?) and taped it on a cheapie cassette tape (do you remember CASSETTE TAPES??) So it’s not entirely surprising that I thought it was muddy, specially as I listened to it about ten thousand times and probably wore out the tape.
The power of these eight brief tracks is that I still know all the lyrics and – slightly worryingly – they are still appropriate in my life. They still echo everything I feel...it seems you don’t ever really stop being a teenager; you just get better at pretending. Unlike the other Goth stuff I was listening to at the time, this one has held up the best. I didn’t hear anything that tore my heart out quite as much until I discovered Marilyn Manson’s Antichrist Superstar about six years ago.
I’m not a huge Cure fan and never liked their pop singles much. For me, this was what it was really all about – the darkest, darkest night of the soul, the dread of living, every breath is death. This is brilliant stuff. It’s not just noise either – the drums are huge but so are the tunes. Melody isn’t sacrificed and each track is exquisite with its own beauty. Robert Smith’s vocals are chilling with despair and hatred and I find myself going around with various lyrics echoing inside my head, particularly The Figurehead, which was my favourite track and still is: “....and someone will listen at least for a short while.”
I used to hope that someone did.
I haven’t received the CD yet but I downloaded the digital, remastered version, and haven’t stopped listening to it for four days on my newly installed Amazon Music player (which took all of a second to download.) I’ve become as obsessional about it now as I was thirty years ago. You know something is good if it lasts that long.
on 5 November 2006
"Pornography" by the Cure is definately my favourite album by one of the most inspriational bands to come out of England. This totally redefines "goth" music and is really one of the only Cure albums to really capture a strong picture of the dark side of the band. Most people associate The Cure as a band that writes catchy tuneful pop songs, but for a glimpse of Robert Smith at his darkest i would totally reccomend this. Dont get me wrong, i love the catchy melodies and hooks from songs off latter albums, but I will always hold this album up high as a favourite. It is bleak as sin and dark as hell.