Friday, January 15, 2010

442. Boys don’t cry- It’s sort of an album by the cure.


Album: Boys Don't Cry.

Artist: The Cure.

Year: 1980

Genre: Pop.

Tracks.

  1. Boys Don't Cry
  2. Plastic Passion
  3. 10:15 Saturday Night
  4. Accuracy
  5. Object
  6. Jumping Someone Else's Train
  7. Subway Song
  8. Killing an Arab
  9. Fire in Cairo
  10. Another Day
  11. Grinding Halt
  12. World War
  13. Three Imaginary Boys

In order to clear up any confusion- Boys don’t cry is the debut album from The Cure if you live in America. If you don’t then their debut album was Three Imaginary Boys which is basically this release with a slightly different track listing. While it’s pretty much unheard of today there was a time when America would tinker with English releases in order to tailor them to the US market. The Beatles and the Rolling Stones had totally different releases on either side of the Atlantic. So The Cure are in good company, but that’s the only time I would ever lump those three bands together in the one category.

When I was at University you could easily divide people into two definite categories- Cure fans and everyone else. They were distinct groups and both thought the other were complete wankers. Cure fans firmly believed that everybody else had inferior music tastes and that by following Robert Smith and Co they were automatically slightly better than the rest of us who listened to more mainstream music. They believed their music taste made them unique and somehow special. It goes without saying that if everyone suddenly woke up one morning loving the Cure as much as they did they would move onto something more obscure before lunch and deride everyone for liking something as mainstream as the Cure.

I know it’s wrong to form opinions of bands based on their fanbase but it’s fair to say most Cure fans weren’t really a good endorsement for the band itself. At Uni I hated The Cure primarily because I couldn’t stand the tossers who raved about them. Now a decade and a half later I’m taking the opportunity to listen to a Cure album all the way through with those prats just a distant, gothic memory. I’ve now got the chance to evaluate the album on it’s own merits without any of the baggage that annoying fans provide.

I can say now that Boys don’t Cry is a hit and miss affair. I liked some parts and not others. I can clarify this distinction further- the parts I didn’t like were all the bits were Robert Smith sang, the parts I liked were the bits where he shut up. The Cure’s vocals are a love-them-or-loathe-them affair. There’s something about his tone and inflection that either move you or grate on your nerves like the sphinx grinding its teeth. It doesn’t affect me like nails on a blackboard it’s impact is more like nails being hammered through a blackboard I’m holding to my forehead. There’s real pain involved.

If you’ve heard Smith sing you know what I’m talking about. If you haven’t then I can only describe it as flat-sounding and whiney but with excellent diction. He might sound like a whinging cockney but he does hit every consonant even if he does seem to add extra syllables to the vowel sounds in order to really highlight how approximately he hits notes. It’s like he’s working against his English accent and trying to use every possible accent during the pronunciation of one vowel sound. "I’m going to sing this word like a Texan, Indian, Cockney and Belgian all in the one go". There is no way I’m getting past that noise which is a pity because to my surprise I quite enjoyed what the band were doing. Smith might be an irritating singer but as a guitarist he’s no slouch and the band as a whole produces a really good sound. If they had a different singer I might have been there with the prats at uni singing their praises.

The other thing that annoys me about Robert Smith (and I hate to keep hammering the guy but this has to be said) is the fact that he has "a look". Onstage Smith always appears with jet black hair in an Edward Scissorhands style along with eye liner, pale make-up and smeared lipstick. It’s an affectation and one that I think goes against rock. To my mind the only reason a bloke needs to spend more than ten minutes getting ready to go onstage is because he can’t track down where a groupie threw his pants the night before. The idea of needing to work on your make-up suggests a definite image and I don’t think good music needs an image to survive.

Highlight: Some of the guitar stuff on this album is really good.

Lowlight: Fire in Cairo.

Influenced by: Punk and new wave.

Influenced: Many a prat.

Favourite Amazon customer review quote: “Basic, hypnotic, synic, lipstick. All of these apply to Robert Smith & the 2 other boys in their 1st real performance. Put the lights out & listen to the silences between the tracks as even they are evocative of an album that stands out from the crowd.”

-I’ve never heard an album’s between-tracks silence praised before, but then I’ve never heard of the word synic either so…

So do you love the Cure or would you rather have the disease?

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