The Cure for a Broken Heart – Dave’s Review

During the fortnight my girlfriend dumped me, it’s perhaps appropriate that we’ve been listening to the greatest breakup album ever, Disintegration by The Cure.

The Cure

Plainsong

Opener Plainsong is anything but a plain song. Huge crashes and shimmers create a grand, bold start to the record. The two and a half minute long introduction is typical of this patient album, giving you chance to absorb the song before Robert Smith’s soft, echoing, dream-like voice enters. I imagine this would make a great opening to a concert.

Smith has a wonderful way with words. I’ve never known anyone use so many short words (there is no third syllable in the whole of Plainsong!) yet create such vivid imagery. Here we see that in the bleakest of times, at the deathbed of a loved one for example, a simple smile can make everything ok.

“I think it is dark and it looks like rain”, you said
“And the wind is blowing like it’s the end of the world”, you said
“And it’s so cold, it’s like the cold if you were dead”
Then you smiled for a second

“I think I’m old and I’m feeling in pain”, you said
“And it’s all running out, it’s the end of the world”, you said
“And it’s so cold, it’s like the cold if you were dead”
Then you smiled for a second

Sometimes you go make me feel like I’m living at the edge of the world
Like I’m living at the edge of the world
“It’s just the way I smile”, you said

Pictures of You

Pictures of You is where the break-up album theme is most obvious. We’ve all been there – looking through old photos of your ex, remembering the good times, wishing of what could have been. Driven by an excellent guitar line, this song sums that up perfectly. As before, the extremely long intro adds extra weight to the first line and the first verse. There’s even a nice little pun that the singer is breaking up inside looking at all the pictures, but also smashing the pictures themselves.

If only I’d thought of the right words
I could have held on to your heart
If only I’d thought of the right words
I wouldn’t be breaking apart
All my pictures of you

The First Half

The first half of the record is made up of the three singles (Pictures of You, Lovesong and Lullaby – I’m not included Fascination Street which was only released in the USA) sandwiched with some of the more subdued album tracks.

Lovesong was written by Robert Smith as a wedding gift for his wife. The straightforward vow-like nature of the lyrics and the pop structure of the song give it a feeling of simple honesty, like the pure, non-complicated love you see in the movies. The song also provides a nice balance to the predominantly gloomy, dramatic album.

Lullaby has more of a nightmare feel to it than the name would suggest, telling of a spider-man lurking and creeping around the bedroom as you try to sleep, enhanced by Smith’s snake-like delivery (look at all those s-words) and depicted well in the video.

For me, Closedown is all about the contrast between the drum, which feels frantic and searching, while the guitar sounds so chilled out, like it’s sipping cocktails on some Caribbean beach. Together with Last Dance, the lyrics continue to explore themes of regret and the realisation that things are no longer as they were.

The Second Half

Whilst the first half of the record was generally fairly light and soft, things turn darker in the second half. Fascination Street has a dirty energy to it, focussed around a deep bass line and swirling guitar that builds with Smith’s passionate vocal.

The next to songs seem fairly linked. Prayers for Rain is about being trapped in a relationship and you are waiting to escape. The prayers come true with Same Deep Water As You. The longest track on the record, slow and gloomy, with the occasional rumble of thunder, this stormy piece is world’s away from the cheeriness of Lullaby.

Kiss me goodbye
Pushing out before I sleep 
Can’t you see I tried?
Swimming the same deep water as you is hard

The Amazing End

The final few songs of the album are incredible and I often find myself starting the album from here.

Full of emotion and intensity, Disintegration is the climax of the record. Opening and ending with the smashing of glass, the relationship is crashing to its death. There’s an anger to the song, present in the machine-like drums and the bass. The blood is pumping. The adrenalin is running. The vocals begin sorrowful and melancholic, best heard in the line ‘to just let go my party piece’, but as the song develops, they too become more agitated. The spaces between the verses shorten, disappearing into the frenzy.

Oh I miss the kiss of treachery
The aching kiss before I feed
The stench of a love for a younger meat
And the sound that it makes when it cuts in deep

Now that I know that I’m breaking to pieces
I’ll pull out my heart and I’ll feed it to anyone

Instrumentally, Homesick is perhaps the most beautiful on the record. The piano and the guitar seem to dance together perfectly for a while, before they are interrupted by the drums, representing the addiction described in the lyrics. The guitar falls away while the piano remains. The violin emphasises the sadness that the dance has been broken, followed by a second, more aggressive guitar to show the struggle to leave the addiction and return home. By the time the vocals enter, the story has already been told. In the end the guitar finds its way back to the piano and all is calm again.

We end with the deliberately titled Untitled, the softest and most delicate on the record. The moment of reflection. The chance to sulk about all the regrets you had, all the things you never said, that you couldn’t make it work and that it’s all over, again.

Never quite said what I wanted to say to you
Never quite managed the words to explain to you
Never quite knew how to make them believable
And now the time has gone
Another time undone

★★★★★

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