Pop Matters takes a look back at 'Pornography':
Pornography, the Cure’s 1982 album, positively drips with
dreariness. And yet, it wouldn’t be fair to pigeonhole it as just an
exercise in eerie pathos. Otherworldly, meditatively mercurial,
spiritually harrowing—these ideas encapsulate the complex compelling
nature of the album because it’s so much more than just the ponderously
murky, suicide-inducing effort it’s often made out to be. It clashes
with nuanced contradictions; it’s at once sparse and dense, clamoring
and quiet. It gives rise to the paradoxical idea of poetic cacophony.
Discordance never sounded so sublime.
To be sure, Pornography might have veered recklessly into the
terrain of overwrought kitsch, like much of the gothic output of the
‘80s. Think Sisters of Mercy, whose fog-shrouded songs, while worthy in
their own way, too readily date themselves, and are too eagerly branded
as the genre’s emblematic aesthetic. The Sisters’ signature sound
features vocals that are garishly grave and music that is by turns
cheaply cinematic and self-consciously sepulchral—all ornamented with
lyrics that tediously indulge tropes.
On the other hand, Smith was able to rein in such horrid histrionics
and curtail genre gimmicks and craft a remarkably mature post-punk
classic. Pornography is frequently cited as the paradigmatic
album of ‘80s goth, and indeed, no other album of that genre can hope to
measure up to its gorgeously grandiose gloom. The album itself is
surprisingly compact, with a total of eight songs clocking in at around
30 minutes. Its brevity lends it its gravity. All of the songs are
imperative inclusions in order to sculpt cohesiveness and give the album
a thematic seamlessness. For me, six are absolute stunners, while two
are merely “very good”. So I will touch on those six, keeping in mind,
nonetheless, the necessary nature of the others.
Read the full article at Pop Matters.