Post Punk


I Like It (Original Mix) - Narcotic Thrust - I Like It (CD)


The two-minute "Subway Song" escapes novelty primarily on the strength of its bare-bones groove -- particularly then-bassist Michael Dempsey's looping hook, which sticks in your head far longer than Smith's unexpected shriek to close the song. The finest of the band's early album closers, "Faith" sounds utterly defeated in its slow-rolling saunter, stretching out to seven minutes almost out of a lack of inertia.

The Cure's dips into Eastern instrumentation weren't always the most graceful or successful, but the sitars or sitar-leaning keyboards, anyway on "If Only Tonight We Could Sleep" proved an invaluable texture in the song's rich psychedelic stew.

A cuddly electro-pop number with an inscrutable lyric that sounds more like the Frazier Chorus than Disintegration"Harold and Joe" is everything you could hope for from a great B-side: Quirky, endearing and totally removed from whatever else the band was doing at the I Like It (Original Mix) - Narcotic Thrust - I Like It (CD).

Often thought of as an attempt to keep pace with peers New Order and their culture-shifting synth-disco single "Blue Monday," the hammering bass and screeching synths of "The Walk" were not quite as geared for such mass consumption. The first single from the follow-up to a group's obvious high-water mark has a tough road to hoe, and Wish 's first offering performed admirably, if not quite spectacularly. The closing single on the band's canonical first compilation, Staring at the Sea or Standing on the Beachdepending on format and country"A Night Like This" feels like The Cure trying to compete with the big boys of American mainstream rock, down to the deployment of a searing sax solo following the song's bridge.

It didn't get the band on U. While it's often overshadowed by its A-side brethren from Japanese Whispersit was actually "Lament" -- first issued as a single along with copies of U. Though maintaining the grumbling bass and skeletal six strings of their early-'80s albums -- the song's clanging guitar hook is the closest thing it has to a chorus, but still ends up more memorable than the majority of the group's conventional refrains -- "Lament" pushes the pace with a hissing and clapping drum machine, giving the song a tenacity missing in I Like It (Original Mix) - Narcotic Thrust - I Like It (CD) of their lumbering jams of the period.

Both an historically important rarity in the group's catalog, and one of their most striking early compositions. The fact that this was fairly chosen as the lead single should tell you pretty much everything you need to know about Pornography as an album. The first of The Cure's trio of pivot singles, "Let's Go to Bed" made its intentions plain from its opening " doo-doo-doo-doo "s, placing a group that had most recently been hanging out in the Hanging Garden firmly in classic girl group territory.

The list of bass riffs more immediately identifiable than Simon Gallup's "Fascination Street" opening thrust -- shooting out from the UFO-sounding feedback fragments that begin the song like the laser beam that incinerates the White House in Independence Day -- is a pretty short one. Hell, it'd be tough to name all that many '80s six-string riffs more adrenalizing than this, laying the foundation for one of the hardest-rocking songs in The Cure's history, and a predictable choice for the first American single off Disintegration.

Rest of it's pretty good too, but the song only really needs one verse and a chorus -- the riff, which runs ceaselessly throughout the song's five minutes, does all the heaviest lifting. The beginning of The Cure's pop imperial phase, a song so big and catchy and generally extra -- with an absurdly choreographed video to match -- that there was no mistaking the group's commercial intentions.

The original "Close to Me" was among the most exhilarating singles of The Cure's first decade, a sashaying pop song with a gleefully rubbery bass line, a brain-burrowing call-and-response synth hook and an incredible dueling brass breakdown. But as jazzercise-friendly as that original version was, the song's wish-I-stayed-asleep-today lyric feels even more at home over the song's mid-tempo "Closer Mix" -- also released as a single off the group's Mixed Up set a half-decade later -- which carries over most of the best parts of the original, but also feels, well, yeah, closer.

Like you're actually in the wardrobe going over the cliff with the rest of the group. An immaculate pop-rock fantasy -- induced either by a mirage in the heat of the African desert or a vision on one particularly feverish late night in Robert Smith's bedroom, depending on how literally you want to take the lyrics. The evocative lyrics and spritely guitar work make the song captivating throughout, but the first two verses and choruses are quickly revealed to be a warmup for the song's firmly compulsory singalong bridge -- "F-I-R-E-I-N-C-A-I-R-O!

By the way, fire in Cairo perhaps isn't something you should be using cavalierly in song, but considering the Eastern allusions of the group's debut singleI Like It (Original Mix) - Narcotic Thrust - I Like It (CD), baby steps. The best of Wish 's many longing, slow-developing deep cuts, "Apart" could've probably been single-worthy as a three-minute power ballad, but it's positively hypnotic at a six-and-a-half minute crawl, its aqueous drums and bubbling bass spreading out to really blanket the listener.

Robert Smith meets it with one of his most devastating breakup lyrics, double-tracked as both a soft cry and a smoky whisper on the verse, which eventually turns into Smith harmonizing with himself on the brutally blunt chorus: "How did we get so far apart? That's the level The Cure were at in -- tossing off absolute diamonds on B-sides that could've served as career-defining hits for lesser acts. Same could be said, by the way, of the stadium-rock slow-burn "Fear of Ghosts," the single's other stowaway.

The Cure had flirted with classic '60s pop before, certainly, but "Friday I'm in Love" was the first song that had to have fans scratching their heads trying to remember if there was an original version by the Chiffons or Dusty Springfield. The B-side of The Cure's first single was so strong that it not only demanded inclusion on their eventual debut, it led off the thing.

While lacking the spectral grandeur that would come to define the group at their peak, everything else is already here: The instrumental interplay, the ear for hooks, and particularly the world-building lyrics.

Such a shimmering pop song might make intuitive sense at the length of a single edit, but you really need all seven and a half minutes of the album version here: It's got to take the proper time to build to the climactic bridge "If only I'd thought of the right words It lets you know from the second track that yeah, Disintegration was going to be Like That.

The chase music that every half-century-old black-and-white horror flick had no idea it needed. It's also the perfect pivot between the Cure's makeshift punk years and their goth-rock golden age, with the energy and potency of the former with the atmosphere and shading of the latter, equally pulse-racing and spine-chilling.

It's got both gravity and lift, and it makes Smith's plain-faced vows of forever feel as resonant as Lord Byron. Good bands come up with a riff as growling, roaring and just fucking mean as the "One Hundred Years" two-chord monster, but great ones lay it over a popping dance beat for maximal weaponization. The Pornography opener is an absolutely totemic work of the goth rock genre, like Siouxsie and the Banshees' "Happy House" played at the darkest night in Studio 54 history, making so much of the rest of the genre sound wimpy and uncommitted by comparison.

And of course, Robert Smith is up to the occasion of piloting this towering machine of death, starting with the legendary declaration " It doesn't matter if we all die! The sound of the curtain rising on one of the greatest albums of the s, with all the opening grandeur that you could possibly have asked for. There's not a ton of song to "Plainsong" -- no real verses or choruses, just kind of a slowly unfolding poem for the apocalypse -- but the sweep of it is peerlessly transportive, immersing you in the world of Disintegration and promising that the hour-plus to follow will be unlike any other sonic experience you've known.

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