Monday, August 24, 2015

Pitchfork's 200 Best Songs of the 80s

3 Cure songs on Pitchfork's 200 Best Songs of the 80s list:

#12 - Just Like Heaven

Few bands have a back catalog as deep—or as truly kaleidoscopic—as the Cure. Their discography, which now stretches back nearly 40 years, is a study in extremes—from the most abjectly bleak and funereal goth dirges to the giddiest of Technicolor pop. "Just Like Heaven" is gleefully the latter, three minutes of the most immaculate musical confectionary Robert Smith ever concocted. The third single from 1987’s willfully schizophrenic Kiss Me, Kiss Me, Kiss Me, "Just Like Heaven" was the first Cure song to crack the U.S. top 40, immediately serving as a kind of gateway drug for a generation of "120 Minutes"-watching teen misanthropes eager to lap up the band’s black-eyelined majesty. It also cemented Smith’s genius as a songwriter, proving his uncanny dexterity for articulating not only all-consuming melancholy but pure romantic joy as well.

The track’s signature drumrolled intro and cascading guitar line—alongside Smith’s opening plea to "Show me, show me, show me how you do that trick"—is the sound of a million hopeful mixtapes and new wave dance parties springing wistfully to life—a twisting, twirling bit of post-punk wonder that Smith himself once perfectly described as "a song about hyperventilating—kissing and fainting to the floor."

In short, it’s just like a dream. —T. Cole Rachel

See also: The Cure: "In Between Days"

#40 - Close To Me

Robert Smith spent the first few years of the Cure gazing and then plunging into the abyss of existential horror, and the next few clawing his way back out of that abyss, with a grin on his face drawn on with lipstick. "Close to Me" is the peak of the latter period: a festive love song caught in the middle of a panic attack, a song about happiness and erotic bliss sung from the point of view of somebody who's still convinced that it's all about to be ripped away ("if only I was sure that my head on the door was a dre-he-heam," Smith hiccup-moans). Smith's voice is right up in your face, with the arrangement's handclaps and heavy breathing almost indistinguishable from the sound of someone leaning in to confide something in confidence. He rolls his words around his mouth, as if he's figuring out if they're delicious or disgusting or both; his lyrics incorporate some of the most freighted words from the first few Cure albums ("sick," "faith," "clean"—remember, this is a man who three years earlier had made "I will never be clean again" the hook of a song).

The Cure made a point of adjusting their identity on a regular basis—that was the prerogative of new wave—and the big difference here from the band's earlier work is that the arrangement of "Close to Me" is straight-up pleasure music. There's no murk, no foreboding, not even guitar, just a rhythm track with a wiggle in its hips and Porl Thompson and Lol Tolhurst's keyboards cooing and plinking at each other. At least, that's all there is on the recording on The Head on the Door: the magnificent single version, released a few weeks later, ramps up the fun by means of a brass band that wanders into the mix halfway through, sounding like they're on their way back from a New Orleans funeral (including a trombone player who, hilariously, doesn't catch on that the song has ended until a moment too late). —Douglas Wolk

See also: The Cure: "A Forest"

#105 - Pictures of You

The liner notes of the Cure’s Disintegration made one simple demand: turn it up, loud. This request actually asked lot of the listener. Disintegration’s fourth single "Pictures of You" is overwhelming, even for a fanbase that prides itself on feeling way too much. "I’ve been looking so long at these pictures of you/ That I almost believe that they’re real," Robert Smith wails as guitars layer infinity pools over him for seven minutes—by the end, you might actually believe that "we kissed as the sky fell in," "[screaming] at the make believe" and "crying for the death of your heart" are real things couples go through. Tally the time Robert Smith has pined for a lost love over the past 40 years and you’ll have hours, if not entire days worth of music. But "Pictures of You" is the logical extreme of Smith’s thwarted desires—to completely submerge in the memory of someone else. —Ian Cohen

See also: The Cure: "Fascination Street" / The Cure: "Lovesong"

(Thanks Sylvain)

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