Album Review: The Cure – “Disintegration”

Disintegration, the Cure’s eighth studio album, was released on May 1, 1989. The album peaked at number twelve on the Billboard 200 album chart, and it was also ranked at number 326 on Rolling Stone magazine’s “500 Greatest Albums of All Time.”

Disintegration opens with “Plainsong,” which begins with a sound that resembles windchimes. However, a very heavy bassline quickly joins into the mix, and the result is a slower, melancholy track. Roughly the first half of the song is an instrumental. The lyrics of the song are definitely melancholy in nature. The next song on the album is “Picture of You,” which was released as the fourth and final single for Disintegration; the song was also used in a 2003 Hewlett-Packard commercial for digital photography products, and in 2004, it was voted 278th on Rolling Stone’s “The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time” list. Lead singer Robert Smith says he had the inspiration for this song after a fire broke out in his home, and coming across his wallet with a picture of his wife in it as he went through the remains. This is another slower song, and it’s one of my personal favorites from Disintegration.

“Closedown” has a strong focus on percussion and synthesizers; tempo-wise, it’s another slower song. The song is a little over four minutes long, but there aren’t many vocals on it. The lyrics definitely fit in with the melancholy nature that has been present up to this point on the album. “Lovsong” was released as the third single from the album, and it became a top ten hit in the United States. It’s one of the most uptempo and pop friendly numbers on the album, and it was a song that Robert Smith wrote for his then-fiancee, Mary, as a wedding present. “Lovesong” is not only one of my favorite songs from Disintegration, but it’s also one of my all-time favorite songs in the Cure’s catalog.

Next is “Last Dance,” which slows the tempo of the album back down, and it features the heavier bass sound that is rather prevalent on Disintegration. Lyrically, the song seems to be talking about a long-term relationship coming to an end. This is followed by “Lullaby,” which was released as a single from the album. It’s a slow, melancholy track, and tells the story of a creature (the “spiderman”) that the speaker is afraid of; it makes me think of the various creatures that children are afraid of being under their bed when they go to bed at night. This is another song that I really enjoy from Disintegration.

“Fascination Street” was the first single released from the album in the United States, since the American label didn’t want to release “Lullaby” as the lead-off single. The song features an extended bass introduction, and contains lyrics which seem to make reference to Mardi Gras, specifically the celebration in New Orleans. I remember hearing this song getting some good airplay on my local Top 40/CHR station in the summer of 1989, and this is the song that really got me interested in the Cure. This is definitely one of my favorite songs on Disintegration. This is followed by “Prayers for Rain,” which is a more midtempo song than “Fascination Street.” Lyrically, the song is very melancholy, and is tinged with a sense of hopelessness and despair.

“The Same Deep Water as You” is the longest song on the album, clocking in at nine minutes and nineteen seconds. Musically, it’s a slower song, with lyrics from the point of view of a speaker trying to cope with the end of a relationship. This is followed by the title song, which is more of a midtempo song. Lyrically, it’s a song about the disintegration of a relationship, and how the speaker seems to be falling apart.

“Homesick” features a piano, and is a slower song. Once again, the lyrics of this song focus on the end of a relationship. Disintegration closes with “Untitled,” which sounds like it opens with an accordion. This is quickly replaced by a strong bassline, which sets the mood for this slower and melancholy piece. Lyrically, the song is about someone trying to move on past the end of a relationship. Sonically, this is the perfect song to end an album with.

Overall, Disintegration is a very strong album. The songs all flow together well, and there’s a definite theme that permeates through most of the album. After listening to Disintegration, you can hear why it’s regarded as highly as it is, and why it’s considered to be one of the Cure’s “classic” albums.


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