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4/18/1981  Melody Maker
The Cure's Funeral Party
The Cure: 'Faith' (Fiction Records Fix 6)

There's not a lot here you can stuff carelessly into the drawer labelled 'fun'. Just check the song titles - 'The Holy Hour', 'The Funeral Party', "The Drowning Man'. Not the stuff Mrs Mills albums are made of.

But it's impressive. The professional genre detective, confronted with the evidence of the Cure's first two albums, might have spotted the penchant for pop on the first and detected the spots of blood on the sombre sleeves of the second and added them together. But he couldn't have predicted the richness and deceptive power of 'Faith'. They start as they mean to go on with 'The Holy Hour', where Simon Gallup's slowly phased bass riff is beaten and punched by Lol (absuredly billed as 'Laurence' on the sleeve) Tolhurst's fat, dead percussion.

The rest of the first side, except the wonderfully streamlined single "Primary", offers variations on these themes. 'Other Voices" is built on a Spanish-style chord sequence and slyly builds enough momentum to start pushing crockery off the sideboard.

'All Cats Are Grey' (in the dark?) adopts more sluggish tempos but wrenches them into a completely different perspective via Robert Smith's desperately atmospheric keyboards. There's an inexplicable melancholy to it which is overwhelming.

Overleaf, you run straight into the aptly-named 'The Funeral Party'. More synthism and measured percussion strongly suggest a coach party of pall bearers enjoying a works outing to the great morgues of Europe.

Equally jocular is 'The Drowning Man', where the skeletal structure is modified by speaker-swapping overdubs and accelerated by clipped handclaps.

'Doubt' is side two's 'Primary', slicing though the dominant moody textures with angry vocals and grunting bass. 'Tear that flesh and rip that skin', snarls Smith, who would rather mince people than words.

Mostly, 'Faith' is a sophisticated exercise in atmosphere and production (by Mike Hedges and the band). It's gloomy but frequently majestic, never using brute force where auto-suggestion will do.

You may not love it, but you'll become addicted to it.

- Adam Sweeting

 

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