Julian Cope presents Head Heritage

The Cure - Faith

The Cure
Faith


Released 1981 on Fiction
Reviewed by Lawrence, 10/01/2004ce


The only other album by this band that had been reviewed on this site was Pornography, so I thought I would discuss another Cure album worthy of discussion...

Of course now that the Cure have become pop-stars -- though they threaten to retire ad nauseum -- they are mostly a subject of ridicule. That they are the most absurd characature of 'goth' in spite of their efforts to evade such a pigeonhole. And that Robert Smith is now obese, wears smudgy lipstick and admits to excessive drinking. When most people think of the Cure they say "Oh, that's Fat Bob!" Shame...

I my opinion the first four Cure albums stands up well next to their contemporaries. Pornography is the one most remembered, as it is a disturbing document of depressive psychosis. Faith came before, and is merely depressive but exceptionally realised.

This was usually derided as an attempt to hop on the Joy Division/gloom-rock bandwagon. The lyrics aren't cheery and the drums have that Stephen Morris inspired metronomic style. Then again I remember a review saying this album was influenced by Neu, which I don't see at all...

But it's interesting to note how developed Smith's singing voice is here. Previously he wasn't known for his vocal ability but his Cockney drawl was one of the things that endeared fans of his group. On this album his voice reaches ripe overtones and is much more expressive.

It starts out restrained enough with "The Holy Hour" -- much of the album seems to have religious themes. Simon Gallup's bass is quite heavy here. "Primary" is the best known song with that metronome JD beat, as I mentioned before. Smith does some interesting word-play: "The very first time I saw your face I thought of this song and quickly changed the tune." Also interesting reference to "sleeping children in their rooms." Does Smith suggest innocence lost?

"Other Voices" has another thick bassline with Smith's familiar flamenco-guitar motifs. "All Cats Are Grey" is more atmospheric with no guitar and mostly synth. What little lyrics there are seem vague, but the stray piano notes at the end are reflective and enigmatic.

"The Funeral Party" is also mainly synth-oriented and as lyrically grim as the title suggests. Ineresting that Smith mostly uses major chords here, but it could be that he didn't know how to play minor chords. "Doubt" sounds like it could've came from the first album, but the lyrics point the way to tragic denounment of Pornography, with the line "Knowing I'll murder you again tonight."

"The Drowning Man" is the best song in my opinion. The guitar sounds a bit sinister and Smith seems honest about how he feels: "I wish this wasn't true I wish this could've been a story." I've always connected with songs -- metaphorically or not -- about drowning for some reason. Maybe because I'm a water sign?

The closer is the title track. (The first four Cure albums always seemed to have the title track as last.) Seems improv, but perhaps not. The guitar and bass seem to play some sort of modal scale. I remember Smith would say this song is about drugs. Does that explain the line "The party just gets better and better"? Of course no-one is enjoying themselves much, as another line is "Brace me like a child christened in blood."

Anyways, it's easy to overlook how great the Cure were before they became the stadium version of goth.


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