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4/17/1982  Sounds
Albums
The Cure
'Pornography'
(Fiction FIXD 7)
Filth Hounds

***

The title is appalling, the music inside is terribly icy the whole way though, and as an entinty in time in space and rock criticism the Cure are in themselves a dreadfully easy target. Are they part of the New Progressives? The production is so horrible and obvious, it makes you wonder, is R Smith all that clever really? In short, the mistakes the Cure make are as clear as the fractured daylight the Imaginary Boys themselves like so to chat about.

If they'd called the thing 'Dirty Books' or 'Filth' or something slightly more poetic it would make the whole lp better. As it is that initial, fatal misnomer sums up the Cure as a symptom. If Simple Minds are the SDP of rock then poor Cure are the equivalent of Mary Whitehouse. The title! Sheer Whitehousian! The problem is, R Smith has a grasp of the truth all right, but he transmits it in a a manner that is doomed from the outside.

On 'Porn' (that's better!) the Cure sound like a chunky New Order. Like the middle class boys they are, they are prone to the most overt plagiarism, which naturally leads to that one single main motive of the Cure/Smithian oeuvre. Guilt.

Smith sings about 'never being clean again' and 'will somebody give me the (wait for it Curefans) Cure'. We know what he means! He means well, he has talent, at the bottom of this heavy handed, sub NO and (still) sub Banshees stodge, there is a genuine pop talent still at work.

But the Cure have a knack of sounding like artifice of the worst, the most blatant kind. I'd have to be very kind to like 'Porn', as liberal as a Cure fan. But the heavy handedness, the unfortunate turn of phrase, never mind the generally too obviously angst-sounding backing (a monotone of would-be despair), push the Cure to that periphery from whence they really ought to be trying to crawl.

'Porn', has too much music too cluttered a backing for Smith's well-intended observance. There are too many 'nice hi fi effects', there is a constant baulking away from the savage in the music, to project what Mr Smith has to say.

The last, title track, for instance, tries to copy Cab Voltaire, all shuddering tape noise. And they do it in an antiseptic, full-blown, blown-dry production! One is tempted to believe at such juncture that Mr Smith is doomed in his own unseeing wooly bourgeouis comforts.

'Porn' carries too much of an inward knowledge of the effect the music it's making will produce in its all too captured audience. It is already loaded with appreciative sighs of awe and wonder from its grammar school, studenty crowd of Cure fans. This is indeed a bad way to be in, again especially as Robert dear has talent (still). He ought to quit Surbiton and start dossing real soon.

'A Strange Day' is good though, mainly because it stops the sickly compulsiveness of the sound with a gap (Magic!). But even here the title is copied from New Order! In 'One Hundred Years' (these titles!) Smith is the m-c kid wanting to write 'War And Peace', and in 'Short Term Effect' he is the m-c kid copying the words of Maggie Thatcher.

While Cure fans are insidiously locked in the Cure (otherwise this musical crap wouldn't exist), Robert Smith seems locked in himself, a spiralling nightmare that leaves the Cure like (their once opponent) the Fall, a possible 'new progressive', making a pompous sounding music that is, when all's said and done, dryly meaningless.

- Dave McCullough

 

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