[Review] The Cure: Faith (1981)

The second in the band’s dark trilogy, including songs inspired by the death of Ian Curtis.

Kronomyth 3.0: Greys period.

Faith is the second in the band’s dark trilogy begun with Seventeen Seconds and ended with Pornography. In many ways, Faith is the most beautiful of their early records, rich in sonic detail, infused with delicate sympathy. It’s the enigma of Robert Smith as an artist that he could make such a lovely record out of lost faith, isolation and death (the dominant themes of Faith). The Funeral Song, one of two tracks that appear to be about the recent death of Ian Curtis (Faith would be the other), and All Cats Are Grey, for example, could almost pass for Orchestral Manouevres in the Dark. (Maybe OMD were darker than I gave them credit for?)

“Faith was the sound of extreme desolation because that’s how we felt at the time.” – Robert Smith, in a 2011 interview.

From the opening of The Holy Hour, the music is gauzier and the production more sophisticated, at times almost hypnotic (Other Voices). The songs themselves are presented as dream-like vignettes that rise from a mist, take hold of a moment in time through vivid (sometimes too vivid, in the case of Doubt) imagery and then dissolve into the dim reality of a church bell (“The Holy Hour”) or some quiet musical coda (“All Cats Are Grey”). While Smith may not have felt that The Cure were strictly a goth band, Faith is the quintessential goth record. It elevates misery into an art form, it savors sadness as absinthe, it revels in its rejection by the world.

I would tell you it’s the best thing they’ve done so far, but each new Cure album seemed to set the standard higher, and I do prefer Pornography as the perfect expression of their lurid nightmare vision. Note that the original cassette versions of Faith included the soundtrack to Ric Gallup’s short film, Carnage Visors, which The Cure used on occasion to open their shows (and an appreciation of which requires faith indeed).

Read more Cure reviews

Original LP Version

A1. The Holy Hour
A2. Primary
A3. Other Voices
A4. All Cats Are Grey
B1. The Funeral Party
B2. Doubt
B3. The Drowning Man
B4. Faith

All songs written by Robert Smith, Laurence Tolhurst, Simon Gallup.

Cassette bonus track & LP reissue bonus track
9. Carnage Visors

2CD reissue bonus tracks
B1. Faith (demo)
B2. Doubt (demo)
B3. Drowning (demo)
B4. The Holy Hour (demo)
B5. Primary (studio outtake)
B6. Going Home Time (studio outtake)
B7. The Violin Song (studio outtake)
B8. A Normal Story (studio outtake)
B9. All Cats Are Grey (live)
B10. The Funeral Party (live)
B11. Other Voices (live)
B12. The Drowning Man (live)
B13. Faith (live)
B14. Forever (live)
B15. Charlotte Sometimes

2LP reissue bonus tracks
C1. Carnage Visors/The Soundtrack
D1. Charlotte Sometimes
D2. Going Home Time
D3. The Violin Song
D4. A Normal Story
D5. Forever

The Players

Simon Gallup (bass), Robert Smith (guitar, keyboards, voice), Laurence Tolhurst (drums). Produced by Mike Hedges and The Cure; engineered by Mike Hedges, Graham Carmichael, David Kemp.

The Pictures

All artwork by Porl and Undy. (The cover photograph features the Bolton Priory shot in fog.)

The Plastic

Released on elpee and expanded cassette on April 11, 1981 in the UK (Fiction, fix6/fixc 006), Argentina (Polydor, 2383 605), Australia (7 Records, MLF 443), the Netherlands (Fiction, 2383 605) and Spain (Fiction, 23 83 605) with gatefold cover or innersleeve in some regions; reached #14 on the UK charts. Cassette version packaged as 2-for-1 with “Carnage Visors.”

  1. Re-issued on compact disc in France and Germany (Fiction, 827 687-2).
  2. Re-issued on compact disc in 1990 in Japan (Polydor, POCP-1874).
  3. Re-released as Deluxe Edition on expanded 2CD on May 2, 2005 in the US (Rhino, R2 74683) with 1 bonus track (disc one) and bonus disc.
  4. Re-issued on compact disc in 2006 in the US (Rhino, R2 73350) and Russia (Universal Music Russia, 2600758).
  5. Re-released on super high material compact disc in 2008 in Japan (Fiction, UICY-93479).
  6. Re-released on expanded 180g vinyl 2LP in 2008 in Russia (Vinyl Lovers, 900228) with 6 bonus tracks.
  7. Re-issued on 180g vinyl elpee in 2016 in the US (Rhino, R1 60783).
  8. Re-issued on expanded 180g vinyl elpee on September 6, 2016 in the US (Elektra) with 1 bonus track.

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