You’ll be aware by now that this is a platform just as intrigued by our relationships with music as with the actual records themselves. The amateur anthropologist, the pretend psychologist hiding behind my default persona (drunk, misanthropic, spoiling for a fight) – he’s fascinated by the mechanics of attraction. There’s reason for this band or that track resonating throughout the listener’s appreciation – as opposed to a similar track/album/band that fails to generate quite the same reaction – but just as intriguing are the elements behind certain conflagrations of noise triggering a response so intense and so automatic, it’s easy to make comparisons with matters of the heart.
(Cue ungainly paragraphs that mention psyche and pheromonal linkage – is this how synapses disassemble then reconstruct each and every soundwave? And once the conclusion fails, I’ll decide to excavate inspiration by re-reading The Rules Of Attraction, which as you all know is a title Bret Easton Ellis cribbed from an Elvis Costello lyric in the dead of night).
The Cure are a good example of a relatively mainstream act who attract a level of devotion that transcends the immediate components of both composition and execution. Of the varied alliances and allegiances I’ve made over time, almost every one of them has coincidentally been with a Cure fan (that is: I don’t hang about on message boards fishing for kinship with devotees of a specific band or artist – at least not since that incident with the harpoon gun and a Shania Twain website). This shared affinity hints at something; an identifiable filament, perhaps, something in the aesthetic that reaches out towards a certain strand of personality (however disparate that group of individuals may be).
For a band high on both longevity and turnover of musicians integral to style (first album was released in 1979; the number of current plus former full-time members stands at 12) the inflexions that hold The Cure’s sound together are remarkably consistent. Whether deploying a claustrophobic, multi-layered atonality (Primary, Disintegration), poppier, more commercial reflexes (The Top, The Head On The Door, Wish), or a deliberate breaching of the expected band etiquette (Wild Mood Swings springs to mind) – and over the years the dynamic has flitted between all three – the constant is an oily, brooding quality as distinctive as it is alluring, Robert Smith’s vocal pinioned to the scale of the sound in the manner of a stuntman strapped to the wings of an airshow bi-plane.
Next up on the Festive Fifty, you’ll be surprised to learn, is a Cure track. Which isn’t a particularly easy task, such is the broad swathe of potential candidates. That’ll be the rules of attraction in play; twenty-four hours in which to whittle the list down. Meanwhile, and below the words: something from Depeche Mode covers album For The Masses; a rarity amongst tribute discs in that it’s loaded with clever re-imaginings well worth checking out – bring on the pheromonal linkage, whatever the hell that may be.
The Cure / World In My Eyes