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DJ Matt's Album Review: Of Robert Smith, Legacy, and Disintegration

Imagine for a brief moment that you are approaching your 13th birthday. You may have experienced some success in your life before, but now you are worried about what you will be leaving behind in the world. What would you do? Would you give more to charity or volunteer more? If you’re Robert Smith, lead vocalist of The Cure, you go down a different route. Instead, you make Disintegration. The eighth studio album by The Cure is slowly nearing its 35th anniversary on May 2nd, and it is about time that we look back on it and see just how well this gothic album really holds up.

When it comes to the history of this album, we need to go way back. We need to go all the way back to 1987, fresh off the tail of Kiss me, Kiss me, Kiss me, The Cure’s previous album. It was an absolute smash hit, but the idea of being a pop star wasn’t sitting right with Robert. As part of a coping mechanism with this stress, he soon turned to psychedelics to hopefully alleviate the stress. Then there was the fact of Rober Smith’s age. He was swiftly realizing that in a year he would be 30, a sort of unstated deadline for artists to make their most iconic pieces. Eventually, partially due to said substances, Smith had finally decided on what this album would be. Stepping away from the more pop-based trappings of the last album, the band decided to return to its more gothic roots. The hope was that this darker album would show the listeners just how misunderstood the band really was! Smith’s dismay over his age leaked into the composition and form of the album. After a year of recording and 32 tracks recorded, even though 12 would actually make the final cut, Disintegration was finally finished.

What about the music of the album you may ask? Well, just as Smith had planned to do, the grim and gothic energy was present throughout the entire album. The droning of synthesizers and keyboards are accompanied by a guitar that sounds more akin to a death march, trudging

between each song in some sort of brilliant parade celebrating the death and decay of the world. The haunting and introspective lyrical choices and vocal performances of Smith serve to heighten this latent feeling of dread that permeates the album in question. That is not to say that this album was inaccessible for the casual listener, however. Certain songs like Lullaby or Pictures of You still became quite popular after the release of the album, proving that even if the mood shifted from their last album, the band wasn’t slowing down quite yet.

With all this talk about the quality of the album itself, one must wonder how the album fared critically. In that regard, even if a consensus was not entirely reached, there was an agreement amongst most publications that this album was a step forward for the band and for Smith. Obviously, this wouldn’t be their last album, with Mixed Up releasing approximately a year later. One must wonder though, did Disintegration last in the way Robert Smith had hoped? Was this an album that created the legacy he so desperately wanted as he neared 30 or will it be lost to time as many other musicians albums as possible before? Only time will tell if this album truly ascends past others that have come before or after it or disintegrates into dust, forgotten in the halls of music.

Photo Credit: Pioneer Press/ Getty Images

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