01. Killing An Arab (Single A Side August 1978)

02. Grinding Halt (Three Imaginary Boys LP May 1979)

03. Three Imaginary Boys (Three Imaginary Boys LP May 1979)

04. Boys Don’t Cry (Single A Side June 1979)

05. Jumping Someone Else’s Train (Single A Side November 1979)

06. A Forest (Single A Side April 1980)

07. Play For Today (Seventeen Seconds LP April 1980)

08. Primary (Single A Side March 1981)

09. All Cats Are Grey (Faith LP April 1981)

10. Faith (Faith LP April 1981)

11. Charlotte Sometimes (Single A Side October 1981)

12. One Hundred Years (Pornography LP May 1982)

13. The Hanging Garden (Pornography LP May 1982)

14. Let’s Go To Bed (Single A Side November 1982)

15. The Walk (Single A Side July 1983)

16. The Lovecats (Single A Side October 1983)

17. The Caterpillar (Single A Side March 1984)

18. Shake Dog Shake (The Top LP May 1984)

19. In Between Days (Single A Side July 1985)

20. Close To Me (The Head On The Door LP August 1985)

21. A Night Like This (The Head On The Door LP August 1985)

22. Why Can’t I Be You? (Single A Side April 1987)

23. Just Like Heaven (Kiss Me Kiss Me Kiss Me LP May 1987)

24. Lullaby [Remix] (Single A Side April 1989)

25. Pictures Of You (Disintegration LP May 1989)

26. Lovesong (Disintegration LP May 1989)

27. Fascination Street (Disintegration LP May 1989)

28. Disintegration (Disintegration LP May 1989)

29. Friday I’m In Love (Wish LP April 1992)

30. A Letter To Elise (Wish LP April 1992)

 

   In terms of credibility, it’s never really been acceptable to like The Cure. Initially a spiky new wave trio of twenty year olds from darkest Crawley with a bunch of songs containing as many emotional layers as they had hooks, even when they progressed to their trademark swirl of rage and despair, they lacked the minimalist intensity of Joy Division, the sinewy venom of The Banshees or the violent absurdism of Bauhaus. Without the vital sparkle of urbanity, critically The Cure were regarded as the cartoon end of the post punk psychodrama while the dispossessed hordes of provincial teens hung onto Robert Smiths every word.

   Lacking the verve, sparsity and vision of the true innovators, instead The Cure offered the chance to indulge a middle brow taste for high romantic mawkishness with tremendous success, Robert Smith allowing the suburban outsiders to wallow in his finely tuned passion plays of adolescent melancholy, depression and emotional collapse that implied being on the edge yet with little danger of actually falling off; a popular Club 18-30 holiday to the darker reaches of the human condition. But The Cure weren’t the only ones offering an exercise in emotional tourism. 

   At the start of the eighties it seemed as though most of the groups wandering aimlessly through the ruins of punk were intent on styling a collective cry of anguish with varying degrees of authenticity. Joy Division’s genuinely disturbing Unknown Pleasures and Closer were echoed by The Cure’s Seventeen Seconds, Faith and Pornography triptych but whereas Ian Curtis appeared to be searching the dank warehouse of his soul for a chink of light, Robert Smith’s stylised, serious and portentous constructs hinted at drama but ultimately led nowhere – the real sound of the suburbs if ever there was one.

   When Goth took hold as a suburban cult, The Cure inevitably became linked in a way that ultimately would define Robert Smith as the embodiment of the alternative pop star, DIY versions of his voluminous hair and funereal clothing popping up in unlikely, unassuming towns like Basingstoke and Farnborough. As provincial suburban Goth and metropolitan suburban New Romanticism merged to create a new era of club based youth culture, The Cure became a monolithic monster of post punk confusion. Ploughing their dark, lonely furrow on the very edge of credibility, no matter how monotonous or abstract his songs strained to be, Robert Smith’s kooky pop sensibility inevitably soothed out the themes of isolation, boredom, sadness, anger and claustrophobia to make them more palatable, his soul not so much bared as wandering around in silk pyjamas.

   Faced with the usual problems of internationally successful pop stars (internal politics, addiction and solo projects), they clung to its credo and aesthetic of despair. But English pop, reinventing itself on faster and faster cycles of trend, was out of love with the ethos of misery Robert Smith appeared to have set in aspic. Introversion had given way to clubbing and ecstasy, and plangent romanticism had been succeeded by a cultural pop playfulness that would soon seem far more relevant than The Cure’s articulations of nervous breakdowns and failed identities.

   In fact, by the end of the decade it was practically all over; the eighties, our youth, the context for records like Disintegration and it’s exhilarating doom, and The Cure as a vital, creative force. In interviews at the time, Robert Smith said that it would be the group’s last album; that he thought of it as such while he was writing it. He was about to turn thirty and believed that it was impossible to make a great record after that age. He was right of course, yet carried on regardless as they turned into the stadium behemoths he always feared they would with creaking world tours and a new line up and album every four years. And yet from 1992 onwards, it was perfectly possible to disregard The Cure as irrelevant dinosaurs going through the motions merely to top up Robert Smith’s pension fund. The world had changed; we’d all grown up, moved on, and for the most part, left The Cure behind.

 

January 2019