The Cure's new sound will lose at clubs, gain at concerts
By ALFRED ARMENDARIZ
"T HIS MUSIC HAS BEEN mixed to be played loud, so turn it up" say the instructions on the inside of the album sleeve of Disintegration, The Cure's new album. The British rockers have released an excellent album in the tradition of their other great 1980's releases.
The Cure's last release, Kiss Me Kiss Me Kiss Me, displayed many musical styles and complex arrangements throughout its 4 sides. However, the songs on Disintegration differ in one big way: the new album has a much slower tempo, as the band has come up with a more reserved sound to accompany Robert Smith, who had previously been the core of The Cure's albums. Gone are the quick dance numbers, 'a la "Why Can't I be You?" and "In Between Days"; the new sound features keyboard and bass guitar that are only decorated with electronic effects and electric guitar, not dominated by them. With this change in music style, the band will probably not get as much coverage in dance clubs or MTV as they have in the past, but I guarantee that these new songs will absolutely kill in concert.
The album opens with the simply titled "Plainsong," an addictive number that highlights keyboardist Roger O'Donnell, the newest member of the band (formerly of the Psychedelic Furs). Smith sings about a lost love and past desire on the second track "Pictures of You."
"If only I'd thought of the right words I could have held onto your heart. If only I'd thought of the right words I wouldn't be breaking apart all my pictures of you."
The album kicks into high gear for the up tempo "Lovesong," a tune which -- true to its name -- is a simple song of eternal devotion. The steady "Last Dance" shows off the band's impeccable sense of rhythm, with drummer Boris Williams and bass player Simon Gallup putting down a perfect foundation for Smith's thoughts about a girlfriend who thought that she has grown too old for him. "I don't think we would kiss in the way that we did when the woman was only a girl" sings Smith.
"Fascination Street," the first single from the album has already joined the most-requested list at local radio stations and is bound to be a become a national hit over the summer. The song is one of a couple on the record that could be considered dance tracks and may find a perpetual home at clubs alongside 1988's "Just Like Heaven." Smith continues his tradition of singing about people who have tormented him in "Prayers For Rain." He sings "You fracture me/Your hands on me touch so plain, so stale it kills/You strangle me in hopelessness and prayers for rain."
The 9-minute "The Same Deep Water As You" is Smith's prologue to "Just Like Heaven." Smith wants to make sure that love is real, that his love will be with him when he awakes, when he sings "Kiss me goodbye/Pushing out before I sleep/Can't you see I try swimming the same deep water as you/I will kiss you and we shall be together." A bonus track for CD buyers, "Homesick," shows another side of The Cure as they construct a song based on layered acoustic guitar and piano. The last song on the album, titled "Untitled," is essentially a Robert Smith 12-line poem that comes alive with some great fretwork by guitarist Porl Thompsom. "Untitled" paints a picture of Smith as an insecure dreamer who loses someone because of an inner conflict with his insecurities. "Feeling the monster climb deeper inside of me/Feeling him gnawing my heart away hungrily/I'll never lose this pain/Never dream of you again."
With recent personnel changes, and Robert Smith saying that this next tour will be The Cure's last, one can only wonder how much longer this great band will stay together. But with albums like Disintegration to their credit, the band can be proud. They have secured a place in music as one of the most outstanding and creative rock bands of the last two decades.