Picks and Pans Review: Disintegration

updated 06/12/1989 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 06/12/1989 AT 01:00 AM EDT

The Cure

The British rock field of depressive surrealists is remarkably crowded with such groups as New Order, the Smiths, Depeche Mode and the Cocteau Twins. The Cure stand out as the most consistently rewarding and intriguing of this forlorn bunch. The trick is in figuring out why. Take the title track of this record. Because of its familiar melodic refrain, it sounds like "Around the World in 80 Days" as reinterpreted by a severe agoraphobic. Consider the Cure's billowing, repetitive, often aimless arrangements and how they complement Robert Smith's weary-unto-death vocals, which he delivers in something that falls between a whimper and a wail. On the surface, it seems more like threnody than it does the recipe for hours of listening pleasure. Yet as they proved most recently on the powerful double album Kiss Me, Kiss Me, Kiss Me in 1987, the Cure can be absolutely mesmerizing. (That's true on record anyway. In concert they generate all the excitement of mushrooms growing.) On Disintegration, the group perks up sporadically on songs like "Lullaby" and "Fascination Street." But mostly this is a gentler, blander album than any Cure record of this decade. Perhaps marriage has mellowed Smith, who still resembles a geisha Smurf. On Disintegration, he comes across as merely terminally depressed, a mood that, for him, is positively giddy. (Elektra)

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