Saturday, October 3, 2015

100 Greatest Alternative Singles of the '80s

From Pop Matters:

8. The Cure - “A Forest” (1980)
The Cure’s debut Three Imaginary Boys (1979) is a collection of melodic but slightly kooky power-pop. For their next album Seventeen Seconds (1980), the band went in a much more austere and emotional direction, inspired by the icy ambient soundscapes of David Bowie’s Low. The first single is their epic achievement “A Forest.” Opening with keyboard that sounds like a beam from an alien starship, a stately and simple guitar pattern emerges, followed by a rumbling bass and taut rhythm. It’s a stark atmosphere of tension that builds for a full 1:47 before Robert Smith begins his echoey, dreamy vocal about a man haunted by the vision of an imaginary girl who is lost in a forest. Much in “A Forest” is left to the imagination. There is so much space in the recording, every sound so perfectly placed. When “A Forest” is performed live, it becomes a behemoth often stretching well past its studio length, building to an immense climax with Smith restlessly calling out the song’s final vocal line “again and again and again and again and again…” with manic intensity, leading the band into a protracted full-throttle ending that slowly collapses one instrument at a time. First the drums give out, while the guitar squalls continue over the thumping bass. Then finally the guitar peters away, and only the solitary bass survives for ten more seconds. “A Forest” is a powerful recording, emanating unease, isolation, and dark wonder. It became the Cure’s first Top 40 hit in the UK, reaching #31, and was the first proof that the Cure was more than just an awkward power-pop trio. “A Forest” laid the groundwork upon which all future Cure songs were built.

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