35 Albums in 35 Years: 1982

In an ongoing attempt to bleed my opinions all over your computer screen, I’m selecting one album from every year that I’ve been alive that has some sort of significance to me…and then writing about it.  Welcome back to 35 Albums in 35 Years.


curepornography1982: The Cure’s Pornography

Straight outta the pit of despair.

For a band known for their forays into darkness, bleakness, and mopiness, it doesn’t get any darker, bleaker, or mopier than The Cure’s sublime Gothic-pop masterpiece, 1982’s Pornography.  Robert Smith whines and moans and wails, a bleeding, broken heart atop icy, desolate synthesizers, a throbbing post-punk beat, and blasts of cold and metallic guitar shrapnel.  It wallows in gloom and self-pity, yet manages never to get obnoxious because of it.  This sad bastard opus crept its way under my skin at the perfect time in my life…when I was a sad bastard teenager.

Back in the long, long ago in an era known as “the mid-nineties,” it seemed that everyone had that one friend who was way into The Cure.  I had one.  Think back.  You probably had one too.  He wasn’t necessarily a Goth or anything, just moody.  And really into The Cure.  Your girlfriend breaks up with you?  Listen to The Cure.  Flunk a test?  Listen to The Cure.  Your parents don’t understand you?  Listen to The Cure.  Nobody likes you?  Listen to The Cure.  The band was the answer to everything.  And, as a moody teen myself, the correct answer.

The Cure’s music became part of the soundtrack to all of the unhappier, downtrodden parts of my little teenage life, the pleading letters to the girls who broke my heart, the longing echoes to all of my unrequited loves.  It’s mood music for the overly dramatic.  It’s the calling siren for every self-involved introvert with a macabre worldview.  It’s the score to writing in a journal in a dark, shaded bedroom.  There is no better time to discover The Cure than when you are a teenager.  It just all makes sense.  It’s perfection.  And from a multitude of great and fantastic albums, Pornography was what I gravitated to.  It felt like it was about more than a broken heart.  More than just some girl.  More than being unhappy or locked in the darkened inner sanctums of some depression.  It felt like a funeral procession.  It felt like the end.

Had I become “The Cure guy?”

Maybe just a little.

Relistening to this record with adult ears, it’s still a dark and dreadful masterpiece, all of its sonic elements fitting together perfectly.  It’s still cold and bleak.  In the thirty-two years since the album was released, the drum and synth combo still sounds foreboding and full of sorrow.  But maybe the impact is lessened.  I think that gaining the hindsight that a breakup or the end of friendship is not the actual end of the world takes just a little amount of power away from The Cure.  Maybe things aren’t so bad after all.  Open the blinds.  Go outside…in the daytime.  Every Goth kid eventually needs to grow up.  Though, it is nice to know that the music and these albums will be there for each successive wave of mopey and depressed kids that comes along.  We deserved this music and so do they.  Take your medicine.

On a side note, listening to Pornography while in the throws of a never ending, unrelenting cold only ups the funeral procession aspects of the album.  If this is the end, at least I’ll die with some decent music playing.

And on one last note, I fear it’s not so, but I hope that the millennial kids out there still have that one friend who is “The Cure guy.”

- Favorite song: “The Figurehead”

- Runner Up: “One Hundred Years”

Some other albums I almost wrote about instead: Duran Duran – Rio; Mission of Burma – Vs.; Yazoo – Upstairs at Eric’s.


Thomas H Williams

Thomas H Williams

From a bunker somewhere in Central Texas, Thomas H. Williams spends most of his time with his wife, his two sons, and his increasingly neurotic dog. He listens to a lot of music, drinks a lot of excellent beers, and gets out from time to time. For even more shenanigans, visit heavenisanincubator.blogspot.com.

3 Responses to 35 Albums in 35 Years: 1982
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  2. Ryan T Reply

    Yes! I was your Cure friend (& decidedly non-Goth). Can never go wrong with this album. The one two punch of The Figurehead and A Strange Day? Goodbye smile, hello despair!

  3. Shawn C. Baker Reply

    Speechless… One of the albums that affected me the most in my life. You’ve captured it in words perfectly.
    Have you ever tried reading James O’Barr’s The Crow to this? Pornography and Disintegration both harmonize with that particular piece of fiction in ways that have inspired me to no end. This was particularly interesting when I first heard Smith refer to them as the first two parts of a loose trilogy that was then completed by Blood Flowers, which I’ve still yet to hear (“what if it doesn’t live up? Oh god…”).

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