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.