"Disintegration' Materializes In Pop Top 40
Can The Cure Surive Success
by Dave Dimartino (Billboard-5/?/89)
For a group as stubbornly individualistic as the Cure,which has never let
commercial consideration color its distinguished musical output,it may be
the time to ask--will commercial success spoil the band's music?
It may be a cliched question,but considering the deeply personal nature of
such past Cure albums as "Faith" and "Pornography" -drone filled,alienation
laden,and as far removed from top-lO land as any artist might wish to
go--it's worth asking.Now more than ever,infact,as the group's new Elektra
release, "Disintegration," takes its place on the Top Pop Albums chart
with such company as New Kids On The Block and Madonna,and as the Cure
further cements its reputation as an international superstar,one wonders if
the band's artistic integrity will suffer.
"No," says Robert Smith, the group's guitarist,lead vocalist,and central
figure."I think it's too late for that to happen.It's been too gradual--too
slow--for it to go to my head now."
"Slow" is certainly one way of looking at it:The band's first U.S. album
hit these shores in 1980 on the independent PVC label. Since then,the
group's numerous works have appeared on A&M,Relativity,and Sire.The band's
1985 debut on Elektra,"The Head On The Door," signaled a healthy and
comparatively Iong-term label berth.Elektra has since issued a greatest-hits
collection,which just went gold,and the group's ultimate U.S. breakthrough
set,the 1987 double album "Kiss Me, Kiss Me, Kiss Me." In a further show of
faith,the label last year issued a large portion of the Cure's back catalog.
"I've been very pleasantly surprised by Elektra's attitude toward Us," says
Smith."Because all the other labels that we've been on in America always
made us really wild promises when we signed--how they'd leave us alone and
try to do things the way we wanted them to be done,and not go in for the
really horrible hard sell and all. And so far,Elektra have been true to
their word.They respect the way we want to be seen in America--which is the
most important thing,I think,because we're not there.I think that with some
people in the company it goes a bit beyond just selling records--they
actually respect what we're trying to do,musically."
Further demonstrating that respect,Elektra has just issued a commercial
5 inch CD single bearing the group's current single,"Fascination Street," an
extended remixed version of the track,and "Babble" and "Out Of Mind," two
tracks unavailable elsewhere.
Longtime fans have noted a stylistic similarity between "Disintegration" and
the comparatively bleak 1982 album, "Pornography." Smith agrees. "I was
certainly trying to capture the same kind of emotion and intensity that
existed on that record and 'Faith,' " he says. "I don't think we've done
anything close to that in the last few years,and I just wanted to get back to
that.And it seems that the best idiom that I can communicate that sort of
emotion in is music quite similar to what we did at that time.
"Having said that,I think it's a little more complete.'Pornography' was a
very intense record--but it probably wasn't as realized as this one is."
Smith himself has said that, while recording "Pornography," he was in
psychological turmoil;now,however,his manner reveals a somewhat upbeat
personality with a unique--and very often humorous--perspective.
"The things that actually bothered me at the time of'Pornography'-and have
bothered me ever since I've been able to think--still bother me.It's just
that I'm more well-adjusted to them in everyday life.They still worry me,"
he says. "When I'm alone in bed at night,I still have the same nightmares."
At present,the band looks likely to tour the U.S. in August--"not more than
20-25 concerts," says Smith.
Meanwhile,Smith has compiled a private tape of solo material that,he says,
may or may not see the light of day.Also, during the recording of
"Disintegration," the group did a "side project."
"When we got too drunk to record the 'Disintegration' album properly," he
says. "We switched over into carrying on a thing that I wanted to do a
couple of years ago called 'Music For Dreams'--which is a series of
"I would hope that we would have the courage to do an instrumental album
next," says Smith. "It would also save me writing any more words for a