MUSIC REVIEW | The Cure – Disintegration (1989)

In a nutshell, Bored & Dangerous says: “Listening to Disintegration was a quick, one hour justification of why The Cure and their legacy has endured for so long.”

Disintegration 1
The Cure is a band that I always just assumed I knew well.  As a kid, I had two older sisters who both went through phases of loving this band, so their music was bleeding through my bedroom walls for a good part of the 80s and 90s.  And they have a solid half dozen hits that have been mainstream radio staples for close to three decades.  But that’s just it, I realised that my experience with the Cure doesn’t extend very far past those radio staples.  Which is why I just listened to Disintegration.


Plainsong is dark and brooding and suitably gothic, but it’s in no way what I ever would have expected form The Cure.  Well, not the radio friendly version of The Cure that I’m familiar with, anyway.  There’s a bass synth of doom, supporting lush strings and a sitar like guitar eventually makes its way into the fold.  But without Robert Smith’s unmistakeable voice, you’d never know this was the same band responsible for Why Can’t I Be You, or In Between Days.  I love it, I just didn’t expect any of the ingredients that make me love it.The overbearing synths might be gone, but Pictures of You maintains just as much as grandeur with mainly guitars, bass, drums and truck loads of reverb.  Tribal beats and angelic synths come into the equation with Closedown and Disintegration is shaping up to be surprisingly consistent.  Not surprising in quality, just surprising in sound and style.  Jeez, you think you know a band through radio friendly unit shifters, then you make the effort to listen to something with a little more substance.

In no other context would the phrase “stripped down” be used to describe a song like Lovesong, but after the layers and layers of instruments, production and gravitas of the trio of songs before it, Lovesong is The Cure’s equivalent of Woody Guthrie recording on acetate.

Then, with Lullaby, I’m not sure if it’s just the fact that I actually know this song pretty well, or if it is out of whack compared to the rest of the album, but it doesn’t seem as faithful to the rules that the rest of the track listing follows.  It’s still an amazing song, possibly my favourite on the album, it just seems a little separate from the others.  Lullaby is also the first time that Simon Gallup’s bass guitar gets to really pierce through the rest.  And that’s always a good thing.

Even better when it gets even more prominent on Fascination.  A great song to follow Lullaby, because it feels like a natural progression of everything Lullaby builds toward.  A build that has all its momentum killed two songs later with the totally indulgent and inessential The Same Deep Water as You.  Even at almost 10 minutes, it never finds an opportunity to do anything that hasn’t already been done better earlier on Disintegration.
Disintegration 2
The opposite is the title track.  At over eight minutes, it could have been just as bloated.  And it too doesn’t really offer anything new, but instead of sounding like a rehash, Disintegration sounds like a culmination of those songs.  Before closing track, Untitled, sounds possibly the most like what I expected an album by The Cure to sound like.  Maybe that’s a virtue of Smith’s voice being the clear foundation of this song, with everything else built around it.

Listening to Disintegration was a quick, one hour justification of why The Cure and their legacy has endured for so long.  It’s also a great eye opener to just how much they have to offer beyond those half dozen main stream radio staples I’ve know for so long.  And it gave me plenty of reasons to seek out more of these dudes in their hay day.

The Cure

Other Opinions Are Available.  What did these people have to say about Disintegration?
Rolling Stone
Pitchfork
Alan Bumstead

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