Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Album Review: The Cure – Kiss Me, Kiss Me, Kiss Me

In 1987 The Cure were very much on the cusp of something. Not that my peers believed it. They were more interested in U2, so much so that the local HMV opened its doors at midnight so fans could buy The Joshua Tree. A few months later, of much more importance to me was The Cure's first ever double album - Kiss Me, Kiss Me, Kiss Me. In fact it was the first double album I ever bought.


Although it wasn't available at midnight I bought it as soon as I could, to general disinterest from most people I knew. Some Cure albums are very much a mood piece, Seventeen Seconds and Faith are glorious slabs of gloom, while others are more skittish, flitting from mood to mood (The Head on the Door). This album feels very much like a sum up of all these facets. It opens with the squalling guitars of the somewhat heavy title track, before giving way to the first slice of pop genius, Catch. It's an effortlessly simple song, a breezy melody over a lyric about how Robert Smith "used to sometimes try to catch her, but never even caught her name." All dispatched in less than 3 minutes!


The hard-riffing Torture is slightly marred by some 80s era brass (the Cure had a penchant for this in the mid to late 1980s) but this is followed by the gorgeous, narcoleptic ballad If Only Tonight We Could Sleep, featuring what appears to be a sitar. It features a long instrumental build up, beloved of their early 80s peak period, allowing the track to unfold slowly and deliberately before Smith's idiosyncratic vocals begin. Later this is taken a stage further on The Snakepit, which crawls along sluggishly as Smith sings about "writhing in the snakepit" as the band cook up an almost psychedelic atmosphere. It's the longest track here at nearly seven minutes yet it drones on so pleasantly you don't want it to end.


Apart from some of the Cure's poppiest moments (Why Can't I Be You, Hot Hot Hot and the irritating Hey You) the rest of the material here can be divided into various 'types' of Cure songs. There are classic Cure strumalong tracks such as How Beautiful You Are, the whimsical The Perfect Girl and the towering Just Like Heaven. Although the latter borrows from older Cure tracks such as In Between Days it's a really joyous Cure track, with one of Robert Smith's classic jangly guitar riffs. There are also angrier tracks All I Want, Icing Sugar, Shiver and Shake and Fight, showing a rockier side to Smith's guitar playing. The first of these is probably the most successful. Keyboards are prominent throughout the album, particularly on the slow-paced, soaring One More Time and A Thousand Hours, a pair of brooders in the vein of Faith.


It's a good album but it's hard to imagine it as anyone's favourite Cure album, there are too many changes of mood, and, well, too much music to digest here. Yet conversely it may be the Cure album which represents the band best: they were never quite the morose goths of Faith and Disintegration, nor the bouncy pop band of The Love Cats and Friday I'm In Love but an amalgam of all of this and more besides.