The Cure have always been one of those bands that people had been exposed to. They have a massive following, which is great considering they haven’t made the most amazing records lately. That said, the live show is something to marvel at. Regularly playing three hour plus shows, this band is a behemoth onstage. They still sound exactly the same as the voices and music we’ve all heard on classics like “Disintegration,” “Boy’s Don’t Cry,” and “Pornography.”
The Cure remain not only one of the most interesting bands in alternative rock history, but they are still making music and inspiring bands to get a little bit dark. This list mostly draws from the better known albums, but it works out that way simply because those are the best, in my opinion. Hope you enjoy it!
10 THE HANGING GARDEN: PORNOGRAPHY
Opening this top ten list is a classic goth masterpiece from Robert Smith and the Gang. His trademark voice is sharp as nails, with mythical elements and occurrences filling up the vocal portion. It brings images not of a lush garden, but of a nightmarish fire sweeping across the lattice work of a once plentiful world. Still yet the drums are manic and disorienting, and ultimately are the driving force (no pun intended) behind the tracks excellence.
9 PRAYERS FOR RAIN: DISINTEGRATION
Like peeking through a looking glass to observe a harsh cold world , “Prayers for Rain” hits on all manner of doom and gloom over the course of the six minute run time. The guitar section is thick and lustrous, with the lyrical element showing a more hostile, agitated Smith than we’re accustomed to. One of the best things about the band's work is how well the mixing always is. You hear certain elements, sure, but it fits in in a sort of disorienting way, which is to say it muddies the waters and showcases the feeling of the tenseness in the song, while still proving to be an emotional metaphor filled track.
8 IF ONLY TONIGHT WE COULD SLEEP: KISS ME, KISS ME, KISS ME
The song clearly has an off-world oriental feel, but for a band from bloody England, it’s not the easiest thing to accomplish. “If Only Tonight We Could Sleep” is a slow-moving journey through unknown territories, showcasing the band’s ability to move with ease from one section to the next. The song is very much an adventure, albeit an adventure into dark terrains of the heart of a disimpassioned person. This band relies so much on shadowy nuance, but the tension in “..Sleep” is palpable and ever present.
7 THE END OF THE WORLD: THE CURE
This might come as a surprise of sorts, but it felt important to include a later song to the list. This album gets more slack than I think is warranted, but by this time the Cure had already cemented their rock n roll status. Smith's voice is more clear here than one other featured tracks, and the instrumentation is polished and glossed in a manner that actually helps the band more than you’d think. At number seven, the thoroughly underrated “The End of the World.”
6 FRIDAY I’M IN LOVE: WISH
What’s not to love about this classic early 90’s lovelorn anthem? For starters, not much to be honest. The song is firmly outside the scope of what you might expect from the darkness, yet it works well in a catalog dedicated to the shrouds of the world. It could be construed as a weekend warrior anthem, although to me it speaks more as a freeing type of song. The regrets of the past slip away as we become our true selves, unburdened by the weight of everything else. If those things speak to you, there’s still a happy go lucky sounding song underneath all our life’s burdens.
5 ONE HUNDRED YEARS: PORNOGRAPHY
The first time I ever heard this, I was fittingly at a very dark gothic bar. The beat is quite pulsing, and it feels like something you would hear in a dark forest on the show “Twin Peaks.” It’s just a spooky song. Now, I haven’t heard every Cure record, but this is still one of the more sinister songs in their catalog. I imagine a helpless woman meandering through long hallways, lost and trying to find her way out while strobe lights are going, complicating the situation. This is also the first song on the album, so you kind of get the vibe they were going for with this. This isn’t a pretty, romantic Cure album. This was something more dark and unnerving, and something I wished the band would do more.
4 BURN: THE CROW SOUNDTRACK
Since the first listen, I’ve been devoted to this song. The movie is still great, and the song is easily one of the highlights of this often overlooked soundtrack. At their Voodoo Music Experience performance, this band performed “Burn” for the first time ever. That is a big deal in itself, but when bands play songs that are over 10 years, going on nearly twenty years old, that is a big deal. For a fan of both the film, and the song, it was the highlight of their whole set.From the opening notes of the whistle, to the deliberate drumming, this is the perfect choice for this list. It’s not a Cure song you hear mentioned often, but it really should be. Even after probably two hundred listens throughout my life, I still love it, and if you haven’t heard it and are a fan of the band, I suggest you check it out. You’re going to love this song
3 BOYS DON’T CRY: THREE IMAGINARY BOYS
I thought this song was from their first album, but apparently I was wrong. Created as nothing more than a single and then released on the United States equivalent of their first album(Three Imaginary Boys),this gem crowded the airwaves and is still a staple among post rock circles. Initially, I had no idea it was the Cure at all. For some reason, my fourteen year old mind thought it was Joy Division or something in that vein. Now I look back and realize that though Joy Division, and especially Peter Hook are amazing, the Cure are just better. This is still a staple of the times, and it’s not hard to see why. The song has a certain masculinity to it, even in the face of the more feminine undertones, and it is just a great song.
2 PICTURES OF YOU: DISINTEGRATION
So many of the band's songs, especially on this album, use the chimes as an instrument that really does add a depth of fantasy and romanticism to it. There’s a reason why Kyle explains in South Park that “Disintegration is the best album ever!” It really fucking might be. It took the Cure to a level of mythological proportions, and it’s still the best thing the band has ever done. This song, found at number five on our list, is another sad reminder that love can die just as it was born. The sound has a lush, thick template at its base, and the raw sound of Smith’s voice only help to make the song better.
1 FASCINATION STREET: DISINTEGRATION
So many of their songs have a story telling quality without actually telling a story, and this is the song that best exemplifies that. I imagine a smoky street, slight rain coming down. Picture Times Square in the 80’s, at the heart and center of its seediness and shadowy underbelly. On “Fascination Street,” things are always interesting, but never reach good times. The bass parts through the song are very important to the overall cautiousness of the song. You can also sense the desperation in Smith’s vocals, and it really ties the song together. What I like most about the song is its ability to keep going through wall after wall of pure sound, adding and subtracting layers as the machine sees fit. Not to be lame, but it’s a fascinating song full of moral quandaries and questionable content, and of course, a song from the timeless “Disintegration” has to be the number one on this list.
Landon Murray is a music connooisseur who craves sounds of all shapes and textures. He's seen over 2000 bands and looks forward to welcoming you into his world of sound,
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