The Cure - Pornography (Cover Artwork)

The Cure

Pornography (1982)


I thought this an appropriate time to rediscover this record, in light of the recent release of the "Trilogy" DVD. For those of you who aren't familiar with the Cure, they are one of the most influential pop/rock/new wave bands to come out of the early 1980's. The Cure are an ever-changing entity, who began as a three piece outfit playing straight ahead pop rock songs with a bitter, sarcastic, and self destructive twist. In their later years, they would be credited as the genesis of the Goth movement, a label they absolutely detest. They have experimented with all types of sounds, ranging from an early punk influence to massive, orchestrated opuses, to a shelved album of dance music, of which only two songs ever saw the light of day.

Pornography is one of the darker and more experimental albums in the Cure catalog, being the first in a "trilogy" of dark albums released over 18 years. (Disintegration followed in 1989, followed by Bloodflowers in 2000.) While written with the original, three piece lineup, Pornography delivers rich, dissonant guitar textures; the most forceful, violent drumming ever delivered by drummer Lol Tolhurst; and Simon Gallup's unique bass style and tone, which bring the two together in a beautiful, mesmerizing-yet-simple way that has been the trademark distinguishable bass sound of the Cure since their humble beginnings in the late 1970's.

The album leads off with "A Hundred Years," a song rooted in the reckless debauchery and budding paranoia of a group beginning to discover their fame and immortality. The first verse addresses strange new life on the road: "It doesn't matter if we all die/ambition in the back of a black car/in a high building there's so much to do/a story on the radio/it's going home time." The song is a fierce, frantic and dissonant wall of sound from the time the first chord attack until the song cuts off as if running into a wall in all its own anger and confusion. This is one of the best elements of Cure songs; Robert Smith has an unsurpassed way of breathing life and emotion into a song, creating a feeling without lyrics, and then using the lyrics to push that feeling to its outer limits.

Another personal favorite on this record is the fourth song, "Siamese Twins." This song is the quintessential expression of falling into the void that's left behind when love walks out on you:

"Leave me to die/You won't remember my voice/I walked away and grew old/You never talk/We never smile/I scream/You're nothing/I don't need you any more"
Smith's lyrics on "Pornography" are as brutal as they are elegant; he speaks only what is true, and real, and what others dare not speak. He leaves the listener feeling justified and understood, and his subjects ashamed and horrified to continue being the rotten picture of themselves that he paints.

Echoes of The Cure ring throughout the punk and emo world still, opening the door for the sincerity and emotion behind such now renowned songwriters and self proclaimed fans as the Alkaline Trio, Face to Face, Jimmy Eat World, Dashboard Confessional, and countless others. If you're in the market for something new, and can wrap your head around something a little bigger than emo/screamo/punk rock sound-alike bands, "Pornography" is an excellent place for the young and disillusioned to begin their journey into the wonderful world that is The Cure.