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4/25/1981  Sounds
Faith, Hope And Reverse Psychology

****1/2

If we didn’t know better, we could all throw rocks with the words ‘Joy Division’ printed all the way through at The Cure. Fact is, course, they were doing this sort of thing - and minus the distasteful wordplay with deathcamp imagery - years before. Perhaps someone should phone the insanity squad?

Enough! The Cure are above such puerile games of grammar and solipsism. At best (Joy)/Division offered an unhealthy, vicarious snapshot of the darkness (but how soon everyone wore their badge!) and the press, poor leeches living their lives by proxy, flocked to their falsie nerve-ends.

The Cure pretend to no such Genetesque aesthetic of degradation. They would never "die for you". ‘Faith’ has exactly that; beyond the surface of cynicism, this glance of genius glows with positivism and blares from its boot-soles upwards.

‘Faith’ is hardly new. ‘Primary’ goes fast, its phased binary beat slicing somewhere between Neu and the Doctors of Madness. ‘Doubt’ also takes it at a fair lick, a classy lyrical dance number. Neither of them are particularly historic, but both are infused with an epic quality by The Cure’s sense of strong, haunting melody.

The rest commutes between modern-day Dusseldorf and the Sixties of the Floyd at the Middle Earth and the Doors in Miami. There’s a Neu-ish sense of smudged melody, soft tones flowing around a languorous, groaning bass. Pieces like ‘Other Voices’, a chill offshore dub written for a spaghetti western, and the seductive cathedral voices of ‘All Cats Are Grey’, with a ritual drum beat I could whirl to all night, have an overwhelming authentic atmosphere. Like ‘The End’, they have some strange sense of importance, of personal commitment, that I can’t quite fathom. It’s almost as though listening to ‘Faith’ requires a personal act of involvement, the reward being a sense of belonging.

That may sound completely wacko, but ‘Faith’ wins. It swings like a warm summer night, its warm breezes and rarefied beat transcend everyday dance music. But whatever symbols I pin on its entrancing map, the only steps you’ll take here are those of an irresistible dance to music like brilliant light.

And a word to the wise: ‘Faith’ and its constituent parts trade under a namemark of broadly ‘religious’ cynicism, dismissing catechism, belief and observance. It may (should?) knock down some icons, but you should read between its lines. Reverse psychology may be passe, but ‘Faith’ uses these as a front for its own deep-rooted hope and belief. As Smith repeats at the end of the title track, "There’s nothing left but faith." Without that they couldn’t have made this album. This is life and I want more of it.

- John G.

 

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