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"Fill my heart with love."
on 23 December 2016
With a reputation as purveyors of gloomy introspection, this - the Cure's eighth studio album - has often been seen as their defining statement. After all, there is plenty of doom & gloom on display to satisfy the most ardent Goth but that would be only telling half the story, for there are moments of beauty, tenderness & passion also. Released in May 1989, the album became one of their most successful, reaching #3 in the UK charts & builds on the formula of their previous release, 'Kiss Me, Kiss Me, Kiss Me,' with long intros of magnificent, spiralling sound that pulls you into their dark, Gothic dreamscapes of obsessive love & despair but does it deserve to be recognised as their greatest album? I think it does...
1. Plainsong - Surprisingly, it opens with the sound of wind chimes. At times glistening; at times cacophonous, it has a plaintive melody & murmured, echoing vocals. Could the song be about death?.. "And it's so cold, it's like the cold if you were dead.".. It sets the tone & epic nature of many of the songs to follow.
2. Pictures Of You - A fantastic guitar intro heralds one of the album's finest tracks but it stalled at #24 when released as a single. The song seems to be about holding onto the memory of a lost love & the passionate feelings it evokes through the pictures you've kept of her. Not the first or last time that Robert Smith's lyrics would touch on how a man's love for a woman can lead to obsession.
3. Closedown - "If only I could fill my heart with love..." Is this song about losing the ability to feel through too much self-preoccupation? Whatever, it sounds great with dark, rhythmic drums.
4. Lovesong - Written by Smith as a wedding gift to his wife, it went on to become the Cure's biggest hit in America, reaching #2. Sadly, it was not quite as popular in the UK, stalling at #18. Though the music is rather sad, it is one of the band's sweetest songs.
5. Last Dance - Smith lamenting the passing of time & how the girl he once loved so passionately is now a woman, still beautiful but no longer the same. Through a last dance together, he hopes to rekindle the old flame but knows that it is impossible.
6. Lullaby - An odd choice as the first single from the album, reaching a very respectable #5. It has a wonderful arrangement, which creates an unsettling atmosphere & is inspired by a nightmare Smith had as a child. The lyrics touch on arachnophobia & how one becomes transfixed by our darkest fears.
7. Fascination Street - Probably the rockiest & most aggressive track on the album, with great bass & drums. Released as a single but only in America, it is said to be about the hookers of the infamous red light district of New Orleans
8. Prayers For Rain - Why was this magnificent track never released as a single!? I think it's the best song on the album! I mean, the music is absolutely amazing, boasting a wonderful guitar melody & cacophonous drums. As for the lyrics, Smith appears to be singing about a destructive & stiflingly oppressive relationship.
9. The Same Deep Water As You - The longest track on the album, at over nine minutes, it is complete with sound effects of rain & thunder & seems to represent everything one would expect of the Cure. There is an air of despair in both the music & the lyrics & is great to listen to while wallowing in your own misery, for it has an oddly cathartic effect.
10. Disintegration - A more up-tempo number, though it clocks in at over eight minutes but is it about the pain of breaking up with someone or the trappings of fame?.. You decide.
11. Homesick - Conflict? Addiction? Like most Cure lyrics there are many possible interpretations, so why not just lie down & enjoy the music? And as with most of the songs, there is a lengthy intro before Smith sings wearily of love & despair...
12. Untitled - I interpret the lyrics of this song to be about unrequited love... "Never quite said what I wanted to say to you.".. We've all been there. Too afraid of rejection to express our true feelings for someone & having to live with the regret of a lost opportunity. The music, as always, is excellent, with great drumming once again.
While it would be fair to say that it is a long album - clocking in at seventy minutes - and could well have benefited from the loss of one or two tracks, it is still one of the finest albums of the eighties & ought to be in any fans collection of alternative rock. It is, quite simply, the Cure's magnum opus.