The Cure: Pornography (1982)

Kronomyth 5.0: SEX AND DEATH. The Cure continues to perfect their PoePopGothRock on Pornography, provided your definition of perfection includes gloomy, glommy ruminations on suicide and murder. With an opening line of “It doesn’t matter if we all die,” Robert Smith leads us into a strange world where paranoia and poetry play an equal part in creation. If you’ve heard any of the early Cure albums, you’ll know they’re difficult by design, with uncomfortable imagery (e.g., the slaughterhouse setting of “The Hanging Garden”) and lots of psychological self-eviscerating as Smith battles dark, uncontrollable urges in a madhouse of pounding rhythms and warped melodies. And, yes, right now you’re thinking “Add a punchbowl and you’ve got a party,” but Pornography really is a pleasure, albeit of a different kind. The opening “One Hundred Years” and “A Short Term Effect” usher the listener into a lurid world where melodies (and time) are distorted in the carnival mirrors of morbid reflection. After those two tracks, I happily followed The Cure as the music grew progressively darker, through the hanging garden, past the figurehead and into the cold, strange day. It ends at the edge of nightmares on the final, title track, where murky shapes and disembodied, discombobulated voices paint over the last exit in deep, impenetrable black. Reading later reviews of The Cure’s music, you get the sense that most listeners were happy to put the past of Pornography and Faith behind them, yet I would tell you this chapter is just as essential to appreciating the band as Head On The Door. Malady was their muse, suffering their supper, and if the giddy songs that followed were fueled by an almost desperate energy, it was because the next dark turn was right around the corner. I’d stop short of calling Pornography a great record because it is a bit of an underdone downer in the middle, but in many ways the album is an early Gothic masterpiece.

The Songs
1. One Hundred Years
2. A Short Term Effect
3. The Hanging Garden
4. Siamese Twins
5. The Figurehead
6. A Strange Day
7. Cold
8. Pornography

All titles written by Robert Smith/Simon Gallup/Laurence Tolhurst

The Players
Robert Smith (voice, guitar, keyboards, cello), Simon Gallup (bass, keyboards) and Laurence Tolhurst (drums, keyboards). The album was produced by The Cure and Phil Thornalley, and engineered by Thornalley, Smith and Mike Nocito.

The Plastic
The album was recorded at RAK Studio One in London and originally released on May 3, 1982 in the UK (Fiction), blah blah blah. Re-released on digitally remastered CD in 2006 in the US (Fiction/Elektra/Rhino, R2 73351). The album’s sleeve design is credited to The Cure and Ben Kelly, with photographs by Michael Kostiff.

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