The Joup Friday Album: The Cure – Kiss Me Kiss Me Kiss Me

The_Cure-Kiss_Me,_Kiss_Me,_Kiss_Me_(2006)-FrontalSadness is, I have long maintained, very similar to a drug. A nasty, hurtful and yet still strangely alluring drug, whose effects both damage and enthrall. And there is a way to enjoy sadness. Yes, I know that makes me sound Goth and I suppose although I’ve never felt the need to dress according to the parameters of any particular social group, there is indeed a large component of the ‘Goth’ ethos in this thing I call Shawn. That said the uniform is weak; adhering to the jurisdictional lines of social strata isn’t what defines our tastes, it’s the feeling that inspires those conventions. And The Cure – although they once pioneered the ‘look’ and in current times pretty much lampoon the same – are all about those feelings. And while previously I have always enjoyed 1987’s Kiss Me Kiss Me Kiss Me I never quite thought of it as one of their ‘sad’ albums, probably because my experiences with it have always felt a bit more anthological than conceptual to me, in the way it seemingly swings from joy to sadness to sexy to frightening. This uneven tone in both theme and composition render the record a slightly less solid emotional statement than other Cure records, Disintegration and Pornography for example. That said, two nights ago I discovered this record’s true majestic statement on sadness and, pardon the vulgarity, it fucking fucked me up.

The way I imagine it, KMKMKM is the emotional cartography of a relationship. It begins with intoxicating excitement (The Kiss), acknowledges the sadness of other people whose loneliness we – now enthralled in love – wax philosophical upon (Catch). The relationship then goes through a double-album’s worth of ups and downs and finally ends in absolute horror-stricken loss that reduces our protagonist to a hateful, broken mess (Shiver and Shake) before the impetus for survival finally ignites (Fight). And of course, dead center in the middle is the song everyone knows – a perfectly forlorn reflection on the fleeting happiness of love as it begins to slowly slip away, the album’s single and easily one of the band’s most amazing songs, Just Like Heaven.

I’ll come clean, I’m in the middle of the worst days of my life and just the first half of the first verse of Just Like Heaven absolutely demolished me two days ago when it came on the radio at work. I immediately left the building, got some air and reclaimed my composure, only to lose it again later in the day at home when I subjected myself to two rotations of KMKMKM. It was during this fugue state that the record’s true power was revealed to me in a way that my previous 20+ year relationship with it never did. Not to say that I have never felt loss before, and not to say that I have never treated those losses with The Cure’s work (Disintegration has been my go-to ‘break-up’ album since high school. That said I am absolutely terrified of that record at the moment) but this is, I think, the album I needed most at this moment. A slightly less potent, mildly disjointed version of the band’s purest contemplations on the topic they love so much: sadness. A kind of Disintegration-lite.

Which gets back to those intoxicating effects of sadness. As I listened to this record and let it evoke in me the full power of my sorrow I did what I have learned to do with grief, both a survival and a research tactic – I broke a part of myself off and stood off to the side while the rest of me went through what can only be described as utter hell. And it was terrible but it was also … intoxicating. That’s the only word for it. Incidentally I also utilize this same technique of break-and-observe when I have bad drug experiences. It’s fascinating to bear witness to your own terror, as fascinating as it is to witness your own heartbreak.

As always, if you have it in you for a bit of a downer album today, sit back and soak up The Cure doing what they do best. Even at a slightly inconsistent pace over the course of this double album Kiss Me Kiss Me Kiss Me is masterful and enlightening, and it musically it is wonderfully eclectic.

And if you dig it, buy it. Tag Joe Grez!

Shawn C Baker

Shawn C Baker

Shawn lives in Los Angeles where he co-hosts Drinking w/ Comics, writes screenplays and fiction and has been known to drink quite a bit of beer. Good beer.

2 Responses to The Joup Friday Album: The Cure – Kiss Me Kiss Me Kiss Me
  1. Tommy Reply

    You absolutely nailed it here. The album’s inherent disjointedness as relationship rollercoaster. Wow! I always love when people write about The Cure, though i usually hate the reasons why.

    Whenever you feel ready for it, i always found Spiritualized’s “Ladies and Gentlemen We’re Floating in Space” to be cathartic.

  2. Chester Whelks Reply

    Dang. Bravo.

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