The Cure – Kiss Me Kiss Me Kiss Me

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I really wanted to love this album, mostly because of sexual album cover and sensual album title, but no dice. The greatest double albums always allow for the artist to indulge in every style that they had played up until that point in time or experiment in styles that they hadn’t yet. But the Cure never had a broad palette to begin with: other than a brief detour in pop in the preceding The Head on the Door, they had always been firmly rooted in post-punk. And the most experimenting they do on Kiss Me Kiss Me Kiss Me is using different instrument tones on their keyboards, which isn’t really experimenting at all. There’s very little stuff worth talking about on the second disc other than the obvious one. I mean, I guess the riff at the end of each verse of “The Perfect Girl” is nice, and I guess the riff of “Fight” suggests a rare unsubmissiveness for the band, but Robert Smith contributes neither melody nor subtlety to that track. 

Meanwhile, the first disc isn’t without its problems either. Opener “The Kiss” is a highlight here but would’ve been a weak link if it were onPornography because it’s neither as heavy sonically or lyrically (compare: “Can’t get you out of my head” with “One more day like today and I’ll kill you”). Though every member of the band contributes to “Torture”‘s greatness, somebody decides to turn the bleak song into a cheesefest by adding the Walmart horns to its climax. “If Only Tonight We Could Sleep” trades melody for reverb and echo (“We could fall…fall…) and a sitar that’s supposed to be scary but sounds cheesy instead. The 7-minute “The Snakepit” is ironically as dirgey as its title suggests. Finally, “Hey You !!!” (along with the second disc’s “Hot Hot Hot”) is a lesser version of “Why Can’t I Be You?”, which is more or less a pre-Californication Red Hot Chili Peppers song with funnier vocals and more interesting lyrics (ie. you’d expect the song to go “Why Can’t I Be With You”). If that sounds interesting to you …

But there are two perfect songs. The obvious one is “Just Like Heaven,” where every member does his part and more; the band’s best melody, bar none. But I personally prefer “Catch” for its cuteness: the best twee pop song ever done by a band not named the Velvet Underground or not considered twee pop. The synthesized strings here sound realer than the synthesized orchestra anywhere else on the album. Boris Williams demonstrates his worth on both songs in completely different ways: he adds a thunderous drumroll on “Just Like Heaven” or a soft nudge on “Catch” wherever there’s an empty space. Meanwhile, though Robert Smith had been writing downright ugly lyrics elsewhere on the album (ie. “All I Want”), his lyrics on both “Just Like Heaven” and “Catch” are lovely, with the first verse of the former managing to capture just what it feels to be spin-hugging the love of life and the latter managing to capture just what it feels like to have lost her.

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