First Appeared in The Music Box, May 2005, Volume 12, #5
Written by John Metzger
There never has been a consensus about The Cure, and over the course of its career, the group either has been loved or hated by critics and music fans alike. Over 25 years has passed since the ensemble issued its debut, and precious little has changed. With the re-issuance of its back catalog, however, the world is getting a second look at one of the most adventurous collectives to come of age during the 1980s. Last December, Rhino released The Cure’s initial foray Three Imaginary Boys as a deluxe, two-disc affair, complete with an array of demos and concert performances, and more recently, Seventeen Seconds, Faith, and Pornography have been given similar treatment. Together, the quartet of albums paints a portrait of a band that is in the process of defining itself, and the bonus material helps to fill in the gaps within the storyline by accenting the trial-and-error process that the collective endured in an effort to craft a unique identity for itself.
Not surprisingly, Pornography was the culmination of this journey, though its creation nearly tore the group apart. While the outing might not have been the earth-shattering statement that The Cure wanted to make, it was a solid effort that put the ensemble’s final pieces into place, thereby laying the groundwork for future classics such as The Head on the Door and Disintegration. Indeed, Pornography was the group’s darkest and most challenging outing to date (if ever), and its sometimes oblique lyrics sketched disturbing snapshots that perfectly captured the disquieting thoughts of the alienated and angst-filled adolescent mind. The surrounding music was equally edgy, running the gamut from the kaleidoscopic hell of A Short Term Effect to the dangling death march of The Hanging Garden to the seductively slow suffocation of A Strange Day. Elsewhere, guitars fell like knife blades upon the skittering drum beats of One Hundred Years, while the title track’s cold, chaotic torment spun a furious vortex of madness from which there was no escape. Through it all, Robert Smith’s anguished, disembodied wail conjured nightmarish apparitions that danced hypnotically in the pervading darkness of his own purgatory.
Like the other reissued albums, Pornography boasts a plethora of bonus selections — 14 tracks in all — the sum total of which runs nearly twice the length of the original outing. Unfortunately, the bulk of it will be of interest only to The Cure’s most diehard fans. The demos understandably are fragmented and unrealized, merely hinting at the brooding ambience of the final work. In addition, most of the concert cuts are of dubious sound quality, and none expound significantly upon the group’s recorded efforts. At its core, however, lies an intriguing bit of avant garde experimentalism titled Airlock: The Soundtrack, which embeds a piano-led jazz composition within an aural collage that transforms the piece into a gothic version of The Beatles’ Revolution 9.
Pornography [Deluxe Edition] — ˝
Bonus Materials —
Pornography [Original Album] — ˝
Pornography [Deluxe Edition] is available
from Barnes & Noble. To order, Click Here!
1 Star: Pitiful
2 Stars: Listenable
3 Stars: Respectable
4 Stars: Excellent
5 Stars: Can't Live Without It!!
Copyright © 2005 The Music Box