Thursday, 4 June 2009

Fine whine

The Cure were formed in Crawley, Sussex in 1976, releasing their debut LP ‘Three Imaginary Boys’ in 1979. Often dismissed by permanently dishevelled front man Robert Smith as ‘lightweight’, it is not just the only Cure LP I have in the house, it also the only Cure LP I would let in the house, ‘lightweight’ or not.

I can see Smith’s point of view: for over thirty years he has mined a rich, dark, repetitive seam of doom, gloom and childish self-indulgence and sold nearly thirty million records, and this feisty, sparky LP is a colourful blot on the otherwise desolate grey landscape of his career. To me, however, it’s a snapshot of life in post-punk 1979 that perfectly captures how it must have felt to be different and stuck in the suburbs and looking for a way out: energised with big ideas, but bogged down by crap in a world of boredom, after pub violence, rubbishy love affairs, existential angst and catalogue consumerism. And what makes it work so well? The band are young, they sound young – and that is their most endearing quality, bestowing them with the God given right to be edgy, arsey, sulky, selfish and slightly ridiculous in their songs based on the classics of French Existential Literature.

So, yes, it’s lightweight, especially in comparison to the increasingly monolithic and monothematic LP’s The Cure released in its wake. It’s lightweight, scrappy, scattershot and fun. No wonder the fifty something Smith, with his one look (copyright 1980), his one sound, his one mood, his one song (admittedly available at different speeds) dislikes this LP and wishes it gone, like a Goth Grinch stealing Christmas or Dorian Gray in reverse where the eternally youthful portrait is shoved in the attic, leaving the decaying, puffy, lipstick smeared reality to play sold out stadium shows in Belgium for all eternity.

Anyway, for your enjoyment: the angsty kiss off song ‘Its Not You’ and the magnificently ramshackle ‘So What’ from ‘Three Imaginary Boys’, as well as ‘I Dig You’, the b-side of a spoof single Smith released as ‘Cult Hero’ in 1979 that features his postman on lead vocals and is the last recorded evidence of Smith enjoying himself EVER.

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