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Sunday, August 17, 2008

Sunday Potpourri: The Cure - Disintegration

This is a new section to The Metal Minute where you will find, as the name implies, albums of varying genres cropping up for quick reflection through free writing. I am a firm believer that you should keep an open mind and investigate other music genres with which to grow as a pure listener and to keep a fresh perspective and excitement for your central passion. If there's a goal of this feature, it would be to hopefully stimulate you into seeking out other forms of musical expression. The wisest lesson I learned in my college years was to broaden my music horizons lest I lose my column that was heavily slanted towards metal and punk. Like visiting new countries, you might say...

The Cure - Disintegration
1989 Elektra/Asylum Records

In high school I was too "metal" to give The Cure the proper time of day, this considering someone tried to introduce them to me in 1986 by pushing Head On the Door and Japanese Whispers into my mits.

The problem with teenagers is that they're frequently more stuck in their ways than old folks, and yours truly spun those tapes but defiantly threw on W.A.S.P. and Savatage immediately thereafter, dismissing The Cure in the bane of my self-righteous heavy metal existence.

Fortunately in college, right as heavy metal in North America was dying down, I began to check out new forms of music at the bequeath of my newspaper advisor, as well as from the lack of an audience. Eventually I came back to The Cure once I'd made friends with a guy whose friendship I miss terribly. Disintegration was like the Master of Puppets for my indoctrination into alternative rock. Like many people not quite as acclimated with The Cure like myself at the time, Disintegration blew me away instantly, not just because of the rocking good "Fascination Street," but because it was the most wondrous tapestry of layered sound and syncopation I'd then heard outside of Celtic Frost or Voivod.

Despite my hatred of synthesizers during the eighties (which invited my scorn with the lone exceptions of Black Sabbath's "5150" and Van Halen's "I'll Wait"), both The Cure and Depeche Mode managed to break me of keyboard animosity, and I actually embraced them within the first song of Disintegration, "Plainsong," a tune that was anything but. The opening wind chimes captured me instantly, but then Roger O'Donnell's floating keys lifted me to a new plane of listening. Those were dreamy enough, but the tender guitar plucks of Robert Smith and Porl Thompson had me transfixed and endeared instantly.

Surely I'd erred in my teens by ignoring The Cure, and as I began to realize what genius exists throughout Disintegration, be it the sweet antipop of "Lovesong" or the sweetly deliberate lollygag of "Pictures of You," I began to develop an instant attraction for these guys and alternative music at-large. By the time "Homesick" arrived on the album, I was so deeply entranced in this sensual album that I began to adore how "Homesick" is written to add a new instrumental layer with each bar until all played congruously together in one of the most textured songs I've ever heard in my listening life.

I could probably take each song from Disintegration and bring forth a memory, be it kissing a girl to "Lullaby" or driving on the way home from a canoing trip with a college buddy with both of us trying to philosophize the meaning of "Last Dance," uttering "I'm so glad you came, I'm so glad you remembered to see how we're ending our last dance together..." I recall breaking up with another girl and playing "Prayers For Rain" and "The Same Deep Water As You" along with "A Night Like This" from Head On the Door, which ironically became my favorite Cure album in due time as The Cure likewise ironically managed to become one of my all-time favorite groups.

Listening to "Fascination Street" now, it's almost metal and it's a lotta punk, but one thing that can be especially said about it, "Fascination Street" is the rockout distraction to the altering moods and subtle eroticism lurking beneath the rest of the album. Just as layered with Simon Gallup leading the way with a monstrous bass line, "Fascination Street" is articulation beyond most rock songs, and it gave me an entirely new level of respect for The Cure, that they could tread so close to the rock mainstream ("Just Like Heaven" notwithstanding) with that one and "Lovesong," even as The Cure never dared get that close again.

In some ways, their future (and grossly overlooked) album Wild Mood Swings is Disintegration's linear foster child. Both albums take the listeners into varying modes of musical expression, albeit Disintegration is a hallmark of composition and execution that The Cure has yet to fully replicate. Perhaps Robert Smith is content to leave it be as the masterpiece it is, since he also hasn't attempted to recreate Seventeen Seconds, Kiss Me Kiss Me Kiss Me or Head On the Door, though some might say that Bloodflowers is reflective of The Cure's darkest hour, Pornography.

Listening to Disintegration today, there is something far more settled about it almost twenty years after-the-fact, whereas it was mind-altering and beautiful upon contact in 1989. I can only hope that those who have never listened to this album will give it a shot and discover its wonderment.


DPTH International said...

I love the song "Pictures Of You" (having been introduced to it through a Hewitt Packard ad. I've been relunctant to check anything else though. I shall give Disintegration a spin.

Ray Van Horn, Jr. said...

enjoy the experience, my friend

Julazy said...

Haha, Last Dance was the best song ever. :)

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