The Cure, quite frankly, are one of the most unusual bands ever to grace the airwaves. In the course of their 34- year career they have produced some of the greatest pop songs this side of the Beatles; classics like ‘Close to Me’, ‘Friday I’m in Love’ and ‘Boys Don’t Cry’, and yet a quick read of the band’s biography reveals enough turmoil and angst to fill a hundred Twilight novels. Over the years twelve different people have played in the band, and it stands as testament to Robert Smith’s supernatural appeal that, let’s face it, no one’s really noticed. Although they are primarily thought of as being a ‘gothic’ band, their back catalogue reveals an incredible range of musical influences and styles, which makes picking an album as their best virtually impossible. However, the general consensus seems to be that Disintegration has a fair shot at the title.
A behemoth of a record, Disintegration was the culmination of Smith’s increasingly atmospheric and stylistic focus, and although he made a return to the broody and melancholic sounds produced on earlier albums, he did not entirely abandon the pop sensibilities they had been using to such great effect following Pornography (1982). Originally released in 1989, the album came at the peak of the band’s popularity; they had headlined Glastonbury in 1986, and had embarked on a world tour following the release of previous album Kiss Me Kiss Me Kiss Me. However, coping with success had never been one of their strong points, and with founding member Lol Tolhurst’s increasingly excessive alcohol abuse, and Robert Smith’s depression and use of hallucinogenic drugs, Disintegration was not going to be an easy album to record. Smith would reportedly lock himself away for hours at a time, contemplating on life, death and turning thirty, leading to the likes of title track ‘Disintegration’, and upbeat number ‘Prayers for Rain’ (featuring the cheery phrase ‘I suffocate, I breathe in dirt, and nowhere shines’). Yet tracks like ‘Love Song’ (written by Smith as a wedding present for his fiancé and school sweetheart Mary Poole) and ‘Pictures of You’ provided more positive, even happy moments amidst the sorrow and despair Smith seemed intent on conveying. Intimate and harrowing lyrics, along with the sweeping, emotive sound of the music itself, create an album that goes far beyond the self-indulgent, miserable album that could well have been produced.
This reissue, as well as containing a digitally re-mastered version of the original album, also comes with a disk full of previously unreleased demos and recordings, and Entreat Plus – Recorded Live At Wembley Arena 1989, a concert recording of the Disintegration album in full.
The album itself is a masterpiece, no question, and the concert recording, as well as testifying to The Cure’s phenomenal live show, is an awe-inspiring listen. In all honesty, the disk of rarities is unnecessary to all but the most obsessive fans, containing little more than instrumental versions and rehearsals of the songs on the album, but the album itself and the live recording make this a worthwhile buy regardless. For anyone taking their first steps beyond The Cure’s Greatest Hits, they could do a hell of a lot worse than to start here.