Released: 2 May 1989
The Cure have always felt like a deathcult for me. Something for other people. Sure, I’ve thrown their greatest hits on back in my days as the worst, fattest DJ in Doncaster, but that one disk is pretty much the extent of my knowledge. Disintegration is the Cure’s eighth album, and it is widely considered their best, so it seemed as good a place to start as any.
The first three tracks led me to wonder what possible disease could be so horrible that this music is the cure. They all sounded the same to me. Self indulgently long intro. Slow tempo. Robert Smith howling along to an indiscernible backing track. It’s music, I suppose, but it’s definitely not my thing. Even Pictures of You, supposedly a masterpiece, did nothing but make me feel tired.
Disintegration really begins then at track four. Lovesong is a beautiful, melodic slice of jangly indie pop that showcases how good the Cure can be when they are a little more upbeat. This middle section of the album works well taken in isolation from the disappointing beginning and the stunning conclusion. Last Dance and Lullaby are both memorable and compelling tracks that finally see the album gain some momentum.
This all comes crashing to a halt with the unforgivably long The Same Deep Water as You. Indeed, I felt like I was sinking into my very own pit of deep water such was the aimlessness of this song. The final three tracks save the album in many respects. The title track is probably the best thing here and is eight gorgeous minutes that marries the pop sensibilities of the Cure’s more upbeat material with the more atmospheric feel of their slower stuff. A genuinely affecting and beautiful song.
Homesick is similarly powerful (and long) before the quirky but arresting Untitled finally, finally brings us home after 72 long, long minutes. Disintegration is a genuinely exhausting experience. I felt emotionally eviscerated by the end, not just lyrically, but also musically. Large swathes of this album feel like Phil Spector’s famous wall of sound as played by Marvin, the paranoid android from Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. It’s a bleak but hauntingly ethereal album that suffers from a lack of quality control. You could cut thirty minutes from this record and instantly improve it.
In the end then, I discovered a number of genuinely brilliant songs that I hadn’t heard before on this run through of Disintegration. Whilst I won’t be going back to it in a hurry, I’ve got a better understanding of that shadowy deathcult that is Cure fandom… and I’m more scared of it than ever.