In all honesty this album was the true definition of alternative rock, everything the genre stood for and should sound like belonged in this album, a collection of songs that many would describe as The Cure’s best; weighing up alongside some of the best work to come out of the 80s.
The Cure are a British alt-rock band hailing from Crawley in West Sussex, I feel fairly confident that you’ll all know who they are by now as they are one of the most beloved British bands of all time. The Head on the Door was the band’s sixth studio release and it began a three album run to compete with anyone in musical history. This, Kiss Me Kiss Me Kiss Me and Disintegration was the band’s prime era and any of the three could be seen as the band’s best work. This will be a review of the first of these albums.
Described as “a collection of pop songs” by Melody Maker upon release, The Head On The Door had a sound to it that had embraced the works of indie-pop in the mid 80s; with Robert Smith himself stating that the album was influenced by the likes of The Human League and Siouxsie and the Banshees. The band took a new avenue with this album, allowing frontman Robert Smith to craft and compose the songs all by himself; adding his own melodic moods and atmospheres onto the album to make it feel all the more personal.
The album opens with the quite brilliant Inbetween Days, a songs about being a hopeless romantic but with such glitzy instrumentals you’d find it hard to see the negative connotations behind the lyricism. This is one of two singles to come from this album, along with my personal favourite Cure song of all time in Close To Me, a track with such gorgeous bops on the instrumental as well as clapping, breathing and other wacky elements. The commercial success of these singles helped propel the album up the charts, with the album reaching the top 10 thanks to two top 40 singles. The legacy of the band was never truly understood in terms of commercial value until the modern day, with songs like the ones featured here becoming staples of their time.
Even beyond the singles there are shades of excellence, rarely falling off the pace throughout the album’s tightly-produced 37 minute duration. Songs like Kyoto Song and Six Different Ways are bubbly and vibrant while the album’s closer, Sinking, stands tall as one of the group’s very best songs.
The Cure had clearly acknowledged their new lane at this point in their careers and wanted to partner their gothic, outlandish look with a sound that could match. They were 100% committed to making pop music, but on their own terms; creating a concept album full of emotion and noteworthy passion. Robert Smith had truly found his calling in the industry by now, and an album like The Head On The Door confirmed his brilliance and began the honeymoon period of one of Britain’s most infamous bands.