I think you always have a lasting affection for that first band you were really into. I mean really into as a teenager, not some kind of passing flirtation in your pubescent years (hands up anyone else for the Eurythmics),. That band that had something…….different and special about them, For me, although it was the Smiths and the Jesus and Mary Chain that shared my thoughts and I pretended to do my homework to, the band that really affected me were The Cure.
I was much too nervous to dye my hair, instead I grew it slightly longer and messed it up. I wore a Cure in concert t-shirt under my school shirt, and these sort of pointy boot things with a zip. Out of school I wore black, but I couldn’t quite manage the lipstick and large white trainers. This was the wilds of rural Leicestershire don’t forget, and I’d have got a slap for such bohemian behaviour. And that was something that I wasn’t prepared to go through. They became the band I would pore over the sleeves and the NME and Sounds and things for information about, the band I would know all the members of, not just Robert Smith like those with a passing interest, or the Johnny-come-latelys. And so fast forward to 2013….. The Cure are still with us, Robert Smith still wants to make music judging by his interviews and statements, members continue to come and go almost at will, and The Cure retain a large fan base around the world, in the last couple of years headlining almost all of the major festivals around Europe without even having a record contract, never mind a new album out.
The thing about the Cure that kep me interested, and kept me buying the albums all the way through the rest of my life until today, was that they changed and adapted and altered. But despite that, they still seemed relevent and sort of on the outside looking in (the thing that had attracted me in the first place) and at the heart of it, they still wrote fantastic songs. Here, as if to prove the point, and explain why I think The Cure are still relevent, still worth fighting over, is a dissection Darwin style, of the evolution of The Cure…
1. The post punk age
The band formed in 1976 although first album ‘Three imaginary Boys’ appeared in 1979. The record has a definite post-punk feel of a lot of records from that era, although Robert Smith wasn’t happy with the productions, expressing frustration at what he considered to a ‘lightweight’ sound, compared to their love performances at the time. It still fostered some fantastic moments though, in keeping with Smiths vision of the time that he wanted the band to be ‘the punk beatles’.
Jumping someone else’s train – from Three imaginary Boys
2. The Goth era
Touring straight after the release of Three imaginary boys, The Cure supported Siouxie and the Banshees, with Smith also playing guitar for the Banshees after the departure of John McKay. This had a profound effect on Smith, who wanted his band to make a similar bigger, darker sound. When they went back into the studio for the second album, 1980s Seventeen Seconds, Smith took the role of co-producer. This album saw a distinct shift in direction towards a gloomier, gothier feel that lasted for three albums (1981′s Faith and 1982′s Pornography) and spurned an image change of epic proportions.
3. The Psychedelic era
By the end of 1982, Smith was talking openly in the press about disbanding The Cure, Smith himself still playing with the Banshees, and working on other projects. Fiction label manager ChrisParry felt all they needed was a change of musical direction, and was keen to keep the band together. (they were the number one band on his roster, so it was in his interest!) He must have been pretty persuasive, and the Cure reemerged with a fresh poppier, more keyboard driven sound, that was to be the making of the band, in terms of both sales and image. The first album from this era was The Top (1984) which dabbled in vaguely psychedelic sounds. By this period Smith was in total control of the band musically, and with the exception of drums and Saxophone he plays every instrument on the recording.
4. The ‘Pop’ era
The bands next two albums saw the band grown into probably the biggest alternative band in the world. The head on the door )1985) married a lot of the elements that had gone before, with a pop sensibility that struck a chord. It reached number 7 in the UK album charts, cemented their following in Europe and gave them their first taste of US chart success. They built upon this with 1987′s double album ‘Kiss m, kiss me, kiss me’ which again made the top ten albums in the UK and across Europe and made further gains into the US market.
Six different ways, from the album of the same name
Why can’t I be you?, from Kiss me, kiss me, kiss me
5. The grungey-gothy era
Ok, maybe not the most snappy titled era of The Cure, but 1989 marked a return to the more gothy material of their earlier material, and spurned the album Disintegration. Again a big seller worldwide, the album included the single Lovesong which peaked at no.2 in the US charts giving the group their biggest stateside hit to date. Following on from this was Wish (1992) which proved to be the zenith in the groups popularity, rising to number one in the UK and number two in the US album charts. Still noticeably less synth driven (not totally though), the album probably didn’t reach the darkness of its predecessor
Lovesong, from Disintegration
Following this came Wild mood swings (1996), a poorly received Cure album, which followed on from an extended period of uncertainty within the band (Smith almost folding the band in the run up to the recording) It still sold a million copies though (granted, not he four million Wish sold) and spawned a couple of memorable tracks, including live favourite ‘Want’. After that came a welcome return to form with 2000′s Bloodflowers, a record which Smith believes to be one o the trilogy of their best albums, alongside Pornography and Disintegration.
6. Indie Rock era
The two most recent Cure albums, a self titled album which was much heavier than had been heard from the band before, surfaced in 2004. The band apparently recorded most of the songs live in the studio, and despite it’s almost nu-metal leanings, Robert Smith likes to describe it as ‘Cure heavy’ instead. 2008 saw the arrival of their most recent (and 13th) album 4:13 dream. Originally planned as a double album, it eventually appeared (late – the release date was put back) as a single album to generally positive reviews. Smith has stated that the songs written for 4:13 dream were generally split into two, upbeat and downbeat. The record released in the end was the upbeat records, and there has been speculation (some by Smith himself) about the possibility of releasing the other songs at some point.
Freakshow, from 4:13 dream
7. The Future
That I can’t tell you about. Still playing live, still talking about future plans, I’m not sure the 15-year-old still deep within me can cope with the thought of life without another Cure album. Not quite the seven ages of man I grant you, but maybe Robert Smith can fill us in with the seventh age of The Cure. Here’s hoping.