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Volume 70, Issue 128, Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Life & Arts

Cure pulled past efforts together for 'Disintegration'

By Ben Hill
The Daily Cougar

In 1989, it had been 10 years since The Cure released their debut album Three Imaginary Boys. Throughout that time, the band had gone from being snotty English post-punks to virtually laying the foundation for goth-rock on their 1982 album Pornography to the commercial success of 1987's eclectic Kiss Me, Kiss Me, Kiss Me. However, listeners wanting more of "Just Like Heaven" and "Why Can't I Be You?" were unaware that The Cure were about unleash their darkest and most popular album, Disintegration.

Part of what eventually became a trilogy of albums that includes Pornography and 2000's Bloodflowers, Disintegration was a departure from some aspects of Kiss Me, but many of the experimental ideas that gave that album its appeal were kept and elaborated upon. A good example of this is the exotic, Indian-influenced "If Only Tonight We Could Sleep" and "The Snakepit;" these songs were unusual steps for The Cure but proved to be fruitful in terms of inspiration. The electric sitar from "If Only Tonight We Could Sleep" reappeared on Disintegration's "Pictures Of You," and the slow, brooding tempo formed the building blocks of "Last Dance," "Prayers for Rain," "The Same Deep Water As You" and "Homesick." The Cure's trademark, up-tempo pop brilliance was retained as well in what became their biggest hit "Lovesong" and the climactic title track.

Disintegration can be divided into two parts. Part one begins with the album opener "Plainsong," which is structurally similar to "A Thousand Hours" from Kiss Me. Beginning with the soothing sound of wind chimes blowing in the breeze, a grandiose wash of synthesizers forms a backdrop for the gentle crawl that permeates the song and a large portion of the disc itself. 

Robert Smith introduces a new color to The Cure's textural palette on "Plainsong": the Bass VI. With a sound similar to a guitar but tuned an octave lower, the Bass VI brings a haunting elegance that The Cure never quite achieved on previous efforts. The rising beauty of "Closedown" precedes "Lovesong," The Cure's highest charting hit, peaking at No. 2 on the charts. Part one closes with "Lullaby," the quintessential Cure song, which brandishes a creepy musical charm beneath a childhood nightmare. 

Part two begins with the burning rock of "Fascination Street." The second half of Disintegration is usually why it is compared to Pornography. It explores more of the same themes: anger, sorrow, failed relationships and the effects of addiction. Yet frontman Smith chooses to execute his vision in a more graceful manner than the hellish nihilism of Pornography. 

Technology had greatly improved in the seven years that spanned between the two releases, thus making even the darkest moments of Disintegration clear and articulate, unlike Pornography's stifling atmosphere. "Prayers for Rain" hurls blame at an unknown individual over an intricate web of instrumentation. The rains come in "The Same Deep Water As You," which begins with the sounds of a thunderstorm in full swing. The song is a wrenching nine-minute dirge, with synths enveloping Smith's gentle guitar as it cuts through the rain. "Disintegration" is an intense, emotional thrill ride, with the listener being brought back to earth by the icy "Homesick." 

Disintegration is probably the best album The Cure has ever or will ever make. Pornography is a fine artistic statement, but it simply doesn't make for good day-to-day listening, unless listeners are willing to carry around surgical tape for their wrists and have 9-1-1 on speed dial. 

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