Tidal Catalog #39: The Cure

Introduction: For those of you that have stumbled across this website and are interested in reading about my trek through the universe of the Tidal streaming service, let me tell you a bit about what I did. Back in 2016 I thought it would be kind of cool to listen to an artist’s catalog from start to finish and rank them from best to worst. After all, who doesn’t like a good list? I thought I might do a few of them and see what happened, hoping it would introduce me to records that were foreign to me in the arsenal of an artist I was familiar with. I also thought that it would be pretty cool to get out of the “one off” mode of listening to a new record, years after the previous one, in order to get a true sense of how the artist matured over time. Fast forward to June of 2019 and 250 catalogs later, I ended the trek. I posted these all on Facebook over the years as they were completed but I’m going to move them all over here, starting with #1, in order to expand them out a bit more. Facebook doesn’t exactly allow for too many details.

As with all my catalogs, to be considered in the ranking, an album has to meet certain criteria:

  • The artist must actually perform on 80% of the tracks (soundtrack and rap provision)
  • No compilations of previous released material will be included.
  • However, compilations of previously recorded material will be included if they are remixes, bonus tracks, outtakes… mostly music that hasn’t been part of a main release before.
  • The album must have been released officially and within the realm of the label that the artist would have been on at the time or official releases posthumously (normally applies to a slew of live records)
  • Any EPs must contain new new music and be relevant to the catalog, not be more like a single with a b-side or two.

Entrance Point: The Cure are one of my favorite bands of all time, so I had heard all of their material before. This catalog was basically just an excuse to listen to them again.

Not Included: Boys Don’t Cry – which was a compilation of their first album and a few other one off tracks as their first album wasn’t released in the states. But thanks to the digital age, it’s available in the U.S. now, so I didn’t include this version. Entreat is also not included as it was a live album released only in the UK (France only at first) and thus not actually widely available)

All albums ranked on a 10 scale:

  • Disintegration (10)

There’s no better album in the history of Goth rock than this one. The Cure already had hits leading up to this 1989 gem but this make them reluctant superstars. “Lovesong” “Fascination Street” and “Lullaby” are all fantastic tunes but really, every track on this disc is. This record was the soundtrack to one of the oddest times of my life – the year I went to private school and sat next to two goth kids, including one dude who style and hair mimicked Robert Smith’s completely. Both of the kids were very weird and total assholes and one day the Smith clone came into school with a knife and started threatening people. He ended up getting expelled within a few days and that was it but I will always tie this album back to that memory and yet, I still love it. Funny how these things work sometimes.

  • The Head on the Door (9.5)

The Head on the Door was the album that gave the Cure their first Hot 100 hit in the US, with “In Between Days” peaking at #99! Okay, so “hit” is a relative term there but this was their first real taste of success in the US. This album stands out to me because it’s consistently upbeat. That doesn’t mean the lyrics are all about kittens and roses but musically, it’s not nearly as gloomy as much of their material and it’s very consistent in quality. Robert Smith was listening to Elvis Costello and the Psychedelic Furs at the time and that influence shows in what’s simply a great pop record. (It’s regularly labeled as post-punk, which I don’t necessarily agree with). The second and final single, “Close To You” is as bright and sunny as they had been up until that point (and until “Friday I’m in Love”), the Spanish arrangement on “The Blood” is a fantastic twist and the one truly post-punk track (“Screw”) is led by an awesome bass line.

  • Bloodflowers (9.5)

Despite loving Disintegration so much, I think Bloodflowers is the album I’ve listened to the most in my lifetime. This was released about a week after my 24th birthday in 2000 and maybe six months after I graduated college. I remember getting this record and laying on my Mom’s sofa feeling quite emotional about this one. At the time, this was billed as the final Cure record as evidenced as quickly as the opening words of the first track, “Out of this World,” “When we look back at it all as I know we will / You and me, wide eyed / I wonder/ Will we really remember how it feels to be this alive?” There’s an overall somber mood to the record and wandering passages over the course of nine songs that average more than six minutes in length. It’s hard to explain in words but it definitely has the feel of a band making an exit. Of course four years later they put out a new record so it’s a moot point now. Some critics at the time thought is was a lazy record from a band that had given up but I find most of these tracks to simply have some wonderful melodies and is the kind of album that you can really get kind of lost in.

  • Faith (9)
  • Pornography (8.5)
  • Wish (8.5)
  • The Cure (8)
  • The Top (8)
  • Paris (8)
  • Join the Dots (7.5)
  • Kiss Me, Kiss Me, Kiss Me (7.5)

Most Cure fans would consider this to be one of the classics in the catalog but it’s not in my mind. It’s definitely a good album and surely adventurous but it’s really long at 18 tracks and 75 minutes and with that, there’s a very scattered feel to the whole record. There’s a lot of really moody songs but with upbeat, horn filled tracks breaking that mood quite often. “Just Like Heaven” is one of their best pop songs but it almost seems out of place on this album. And a song like “Hot Hot Hot!!!” which is one of their most upbeat tracks but more like a late 80s Red Hot Chili Peppers song instead of the Cure, also doesn’t fit well on the record. If you take songs individually, a lot of them stand nicely alone but the lack of flow on this album is a sticking point for me.

  • Bestival Live 2011 (7.5)
  • Seventeen Seconds (6.5)
  • Mixed Up (6)
  • Concert (6)
  • Torn Down (5.5)
  • Three Imaginary Boys (5.5)
  • Show (5.5)
  • 4:13 Dream (5)
  • Wild Mood Swings (5)

If you broke down Cure records, “Wild Mood Swings” could describe many, if not all of them. Throughout their career, they have went back and forth between dreary and dreamy but it all came to a head here. The title certainly applies here as there are a bunch of upbeat tracks and a bunch of moody tunes. But there’s seemingly no rhyme or reason to the order and many of the upbeat tracks simply aren’t very good. Lead single “The 13th” is easily their worst single and one of my least favorite cure songs and “Mint Car” sounds like a B-52’s outtake rather than a Cure single. There’s quality song scattered throughout the disc but not enough to warrant any further listens.

Summary: 20 albums, average 7.3

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