I think I’ve come to an important realization: The Cure were the best band of the 1980s. I don’t necessarily mean best ARTIST of the ’80s—that could easily go to Prince. (Or Springsteen or what have you), but The Cure, as a band, had a pretty unstoppable run of albums in the ’80s, consistent to the point where you could pick any album at random and still pluck out a winner. (Notable exception: The Top, which is good but not great.) There’s an argument to be made for The Smiths, though they released fewer albums, thus making a shorter streak. Or Depeche Mode, though the first few were mere hints of what they’d become—and their best album came out in 1990.
But The Cure? They owned the ’80s. Their masterpiece was inarguably 1989’s Disintegration, an album that’s probably in my top 20 albums of all time. Maybe top 10. It’s the kind of record that reveals new things each time you put it on, and you never lose that sense of awe or wonder when you hear it. But they had other masterpieces, like 1982’s Pornography. Or 1985’s The Head On the Door.
It feels weird to say it, but The Head On the Door is underrated. And it was a popular album—half a million copies sold in the U.S., radio hits including “In-Between Days” and “Close to Me,” basically a classic in every sense of the word. But it does tend to get overlooked in the shadow of the band’s more thematic achievements—particularly their “goth” trilogy, which also includes Bloodflowers (which itself is kind of underrated, though it’s not as good).
Perhaps it’s because The Head On the Door was the most pop The Cure had ever sounded at the time. “Close To Me,” for instance, was a sort of precursor to the group’s mega-hit “Just Like Heaven,” and all throughout the album there are more lighthearted or less psychedelically weird moments, such as “Six Different Ways.” There’s also a bitchin saxophone solo on “A Night Like This.” But it’s not as if The Cure lost their goth sensibility here. The Spanish guitar sound of “The Blood” carries more than its share of darkness (it’s called “The Blood,” after all), while “The Baby Screams” retains the post-punk gloom that the band carried in their early days. Plus “Push” is one of my favorite Cure songs of all time, a track that takes a long time to get where it’s going, but every moment is worth savoring.
And then they released two more phenomenal albums before the decade was up, and had already released three bonafide classics before this, not to mention a very good singles compilation. So there are certainly arguments for other bands being the best of the ’80s, but it’s hard to compete with The Cure.
Sound Quality: Great