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16 September 2011

The Cure - 'Three Imaginary Boys' (Fiction)

I'm not a huge Cure fan but I love these early records - the evolution from edgy, distant post-punk into lush, romantic goth-pop is interesting to follow, and it's hard to stop enjoying 'Grinding Halt' or '10:15 on a Saturday Night' even after all the times I've heard it played in clubs and bars. There's not any track titles to be found here, but the artwork has great iconography - the domestic, middle-class isolation comes through in the brilliant cover and the collage of oddities on the back. This is really reflected in Robert Smith's voice, which is honest and strained. Listen to his whispers on 'Subway Song', his fingersnaps -- these barely post-adolescent artistic gropes are beautiful in their fragility. They actually can play though - even though the drumming is the weak link, it's there and unwavering, which is all we should ask for. The 'Foxy Lady' cover sees the link between the shard-like guitar of the Cure's peers and the Hendrixian antecedents. And while we're gonna visit most of these songs again immediately because I also have Boys Don't Cry, I'm not dreading it - these are anthems of their era, and they're almost overlooked by the later shadow of the Cure's black-lipstick teenage followers. The guitar playing is absolutely great here, whether slicing ('Accuracy') or chorus-laded ('Three Imaginary Boys') -- it's angled and strident without being too heavy. Actually, the space left between the notes is my favourite thing about early Cure - there's so much hesitation, a reflection of the boredom and frustration that characterised the times, though without resorting to teenage aggro tactics.

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