In my assessment the album where it all finally came together for the Cure, "Kiss Me Kiss Me Kiss Me" is a triumph-- a double album of startling diversity and quality. While it's best known for it's pop singles (particularly "Just Like Heaven"), there's quite a bit more that this album has to offer.
Noneteless, I'll start by talking about the pop songs-- on "The Head on the Door", rhythm section Simon Gallup (bass) and Boris Williams (drums) provided a deep, pop groove over which textures could be arranged by leader/vocalist/guitarist Robert Smith and guitarist Porl Thomspon (both, as well as Lol Tolhurst, also contributed keyboard performances to the album). And "Just Like Heaven" is the best example of this-- a great beat, a nice, bright bassline hinting at funk, shimmering acoustic guitars, descending keyboard motifs, and a great electric lead guitar hook open the way for Smith's positively ecstatic vocal. It's no surprise it's a hit, it deserves to be, it's a great song. As nice as it is though, it's really overshadowed by the bouncy "Why Can't I Be You?"-- driven by a horn arrangement that in other hands could have been tacky, the piece is filled with energy over a frantic acoustic guitar riff and a superbly bizarre vocal by Smith.
But pop is really only one side of this, this is a band known as a goth band, and opener "The Kiss" reminds us why. Throbbing bass, fierce lead guitars, and an extended opening lead into a vocal assault by Smith among the most potent and confident he's done. Also of note in this vein is morbid droning piece "The Snakepit", with Smith's carefully half-spoken vocal providing a dramatic atmosphere. Again though, the Cure isn't a band just about goth and pop, tackling cooled off '60s psychedelia ("The Catch"), deep funk (the absolutely fantastic "Hot Hot Hot!!!"), world music tinged mood pieces ("If Only Tonight We Could Sleep", "Like Cockatoos") and texture driven punk songs ("Icing Sugar") among others. And remarkably, nothing is subpar-- it's all fantastic stuff.
The deluxe edition only makes things better-- restoring "Hey You!" to the album (deleted from early CD issues due to length considerations on 74 minute CDs) and a second disc of demos, alternate mixes and live tracks. This set of demos proves quite revealing not just to the creative process behind the pieces but the input of the rest of the band other than Robert Smith-- Smith's home demo of "The Kiss" illustrates this nicely-- it's a synth heavy number that benefitted drastically from Thompson's more aggressive guitar stylings. The live tracks are a big add, sonically they are superb (best of anything released so far on the deluxe edition) and the performances are great. The entire package has been remastered and sounds a lot better than the previous CD issue.
"Kiss Me Kiss Me Kiss Me" doesn't get quite the acclaim that "Disintegration" or "Wish" gets, but I've always found it to be the stronger album, managing to be both accessible and obscure. Highly recommended.
Straight from the hearts, souls and nimble fingertips of The Cure comes Kiss Me, Kiss Me, Kiss Me, an eccentric album of joy, sorrow, anger, dizzy love, and outright insanity. This, The Cure's 8th studio album, is packed with goodies to suit every mood; from the classic, doom-ridden Goth that made the band famous, to the exceptional '80s synth pop that made them versatile, and everywhere in between. Every song is interesting, to say the least, and most are outright gems.
1. The Kiss
An interesting choice for the opening track on the album, The Kiss is tense, dramatic and eager. It follows the format of many previous Cure songs: long, Gothic intro, followed by a short set of lyrics and a fadeout.
The Kiss chronicles a bitter, sadistic connection, and a sexual relationship that is used to express hate and contempt, designed to hurt and maim, rather than the sharing of a beautiful, mutual love and respect.
It's an intense listen, but it effectively lets you know what to expect from the album; it tells you that Kiss Me, Kiss Me, Kiss Me isn't just a collection of silly pop works.
A sure departure from the previous track, Catch is a sweet, sad tale of an unrequited crush. Robert Smith's voice is melodious and gentle, gliding reflectively along the innocent, cute lyrics. The smooth, easy guitar work, punchy percussion and bittersweet strings pull you into the mind of a man who is reminiscing about (and longing for) a strange, untouchable girl. A mellow pop ditty that you'll find yourself humming all day, this one was meant for the couple's skate at a roller rink.
What do you do when you know that someone is a poisonous creature who can do you know good, but is so infectious that you can't give them up?
Torture is a tale of spending one more night with such a person, and is delivered with just the sort of excellent, driving bass line and howling, provocative vocals that people have come to love and expect from The Cure. The momentum is great; you can feel the sweet torture for yourself.
4. If Only Tonight We Could Sleep
A crawling, crazed wish for peace and beauty in an ugly, dissatisfying world. With despairing instrumentals infused with Middle Eastern style, and vocals full of lament and sorrow, this experimental track will handily complement any reflective mood.
5. Why Can't I Be You?
Why Can't I Be You is the first really upbeat song on the album, and one of The Cure's most synthed-up works. The sound is magnificently big, making it almost impossible to keep from bopping around in your chair, and almost as difficult to keep yourself from jumping up and dancing.
The lyrics do a great job at telling of someone who is so incredibly beautiful and perfect that the singer and listener alike have to wonder what it would be like to be so grand.
6. How Beautiful You Are
Don't let the title throw you... this is no "Your Song". This track is about falling out of love.
The story follows a young couple walking hand in hand in Paris. When confronted by a poor family who admires the girl's beauty, she views them with disgust and contempt. How Beautiful You Are is a telling of how selfishness and disrespect can tear a couple apart.
The involved bass work, punky guitar stylings and generous sprinklings of classical violin, piano and accordion will pull you into a decaying Parisian street at sunset, and the passionate emotions behind the couple's interaction. Robert Smith's staccato vocals may throw you at first, but after a listen, you'll realize that they are needed to express the intense heartbreak and disappointment behind the lyrics.
Catch, Why Can't I Be You, Just Like Heaven and Hot Hot Hot where the four tracks from this album that were chosen to be made into singles. Though they are all excellent songs, How Beautiful You Are deserved to be in the mix. It is truly a masterpiece, and, though it's difficult for me to choose a song from the album to be my favorite, this might be it.
7. The Snakepit
Hisses, rattle and booms set the mood for this pensive anthem of dissatisfaction and contempt. The lyrics follow the realization that the storyteller is leading a hollow, empty life; an existence without meaning. Though he's surrounded by party animals and having a stereotypically "good time", he is drowned in the shallow pointlessness of it all.
This is a great listen for the days when you just need a breather.
8. Just Like Heaven
Pure magic. Just Like Heaven is a love song filled with ingenuity and wonder. By far the most atmospheric track on the album, The Cure brings you out into the open with this gorgeous work. A fresh, clear blend of acoustic guitar and rolling drums, sprinkled throughout with light synth work and simple piano, sets you atop a seaside cliff for a beautiful day with a loved one. Robert Smith's vocals on this track are the clearest and brightest on the album. Pure, clean and elegant, this spinning ode to amour will make you want to lock lips with the nearest person.
9. All I Want
Pure sexuality, expressed without profanity, is a rare thing to be found in modern music. But the band pulls it off in this soaring, aching track. All the storyteller wants is to be with the one person who makes him feel sane and complete.
The highlight of this song, is, without a doubt, the excellent, garage-inspired (or inspiring?) guitar work. A listen would suggest that this one sounds even better in an arena.
10. Hot Hot Hot!!!
An undeniably dance worthy funk work. Hot Hot Hot sounds almost like an inspiration for Red Hot Chili Peppers. The tight, punky guitar strumming, orchestra-inspired synthesizers and strong, domineering bass are the perfect sounds to complement this obscure song. Robert Smith's fevered, quavering vocals are meant to symbolize a man who has been struck by lightning, and, from what I can guess, they are apt. With lots of bounce and energy, this track parties down deliciously.
11. One More Time
An ode to child-like wonder, in true arena ballad fashion. With playful flute work, sparse, booming drums, and a soft guitar riff, this song is a strange break from the extreme pop, doom-ridden Goth and acoustic rock that comprises most of the album. It is an interesting, mellow, cute little tune, which might remind listeners of the soundtrack from Never Ending Story.
12. Like Cockatoos
Knocking, busy percussion, steady acoustic strumming and a sliding bass line help set the perfect "the end" mood for this rainy day break up song. In the dead of night, under a pouring rain, a man promises never to speak to his lover again. Though we're never told what she did to upset him, the city background noises and closing orchestral work somehow serve to make you glad he's leaving her.
13. Icing Sugar
Weird, man. The Cure glorifies urgent, girlish adolescent lust with furious drumbeats, screeching saxophone notes and a quick set of lyrics, delivered breathlessly. Hot, heavy, fast and naughty, you might need to take a few deep breaths after hearing this trippy ditty.
14. The Perfect Girl
She really is! Sweet strings and tinkling piano mix gorgeously with bopping drums and simple, steady guitar work, while a harpsichord further convinces us of The Cure's originality. Robert croons madly over a strange girl, whom he finds himself falling in love with. Strange looking, strange acting, and completely out of this world, she's a breath of fresh air, just like the song that was written for her. Beware of the power of this song: it has been know to cause silly dancing.
15. A Thousand Hours
Heartache drives every synth note, even piano strike and every lyric in this sweet, introspective cry of unrequited love. Every day seems to last a thousand lonely hours when you have devoted yourself to someone who doesn't care.
16. Shiver and Shake
With superior drumbeats that shimmy effortlessly, and fast, angsty guitar work, this is a worthy ode to fury. If you've ever met someone whom you wanted to kill, you can appreciate the curt, indignant lyrics and passionate animosity epitomized here.
The Cure's unprecedented venture in powerhouse rock begs you to never give up when the world turns on you. Robert Smith basically yells at the listener, but his reasons are justified. Stabbing, continuous synth notes, pushing lyrics and cutting guitar bring home a sense of resolution. Fight is a great closing track, with a great message. Never give in to pain and sorrow.
Though each track is unique, they seem to belong together, like a wonderfully dysfunctional family. Each song glides elegantly along our musical palates, as every work is relevant to what every person has felt at one point in time. Whether you choose to imbibe a few tracks at a time, or go for the gold and devour each song at once, Kiss Me, Kiss Me, Kiss Me is a true anytime listen, and a sure new wave masterpiece.
The Cure's "Kiss Me, Kiss Me, Kiss Me" (originally a double LP), is their version of the "The White Album". A lengthy, adventurous album with no underlying theme.
Thus, intense songs like "The Kiss" (a towering, nihlistic epic reminscent of their "Pornography"-era) sit side by side with dreamy songs like "Catch" (bittersweet pop fluff). Similarily, clamorous songs like "The Snakepit" (an acid sweep drenched in droning layers of guitar feedback) sit next to breezy songs like "Just Like Heaven" (blissful, lovestruck pop at its best).
Like "The White Album", the 'random' dynamic works. You never know what's coming around the corner. There's tons of moods on here.
The atmospheric "If Only Tonight We Could Sleep" is a chilling, eastern-tinged soundscape with a sitar and everything. "One More Time" is delicate and heartbreaking. "The Perfect Girl" is carefree and bouncy (and extremely catchy). "Like Cockatoos" is just bizarre. "Hot Hot Hot!!!" takes a stab at funk (think Blood Sugar-era Red Hot Chili Peppers). And "Fight" is a powerful, anthematic closer.
Other highlights include the dark, tense pop of "How Beautiful You Are" and "All I Want", the lush ballad "A Thousand Hours" (a gorgeous song with piano, strings, etc.), the horn-driven "Why Can't I Be You?" (a fun, albeit dated sounding pop song), and "Icing Sugar' (which sounds like a "Pornography" outtake with a saxophone played over top).
Although it's not perfect, "Kiss Me" is The Cure's most diverse, sprawling album. It takes many listens to uncover everything; songs that seem dull at first may slowly become your favorites. Enjoy the adventure.
Best Songs: The Kiss, If Only Tonight, Fight, The Snakepit, All I Want, A Thousand Hours, Just Like Heaven, Catch.