The Cure – Standing on the Beach
Acquired: Half Price Books, Used, 2010
As it chronicles the first ten years of the Cure's career, Staring at the Sea is varied as hell. My true introduction to the Cure (that is, the Cure outside of Disintegration and “Just Like Heaven”) was through Jenny, who is a pretty rabid Cure fan and one of THOSE girls. You know, one of those girls who thinks she's still going to marry Robert Smith. I tell him he looks like a fat cross-dressing clown these days, but when we watched their Greatest Hits DVD (which naturally, Jenny owns and often puts on when we make dinner) I could see the appeal in the younger Mr. Smith. And that's what this compilation is. It's young Robert Smith and the evolution of the Cure from a pretty run of the mill post-punk band into a sad, dreamy, gothy and beautiful work of art. So, basically, this is all the hits up til Disentigration. And it's got loads of hits. “Boys Don't Cry,” “The Hanging Garden,” “Lovecats,” “In Between Days,” and “Close to Me” are the biggies. Honestly, my only real quibble with this other than my disinterest in “Killing an Arab,” “A Forest,” and most everything before “Charlotte Sometimes” other than the aforementioned “Boys Don't Cry,” is that two of my favorite tracks, “Let's Go to Bed” and “The Lovecats,” sandwich “The Walk,” which is pretty much terrible to my ears. That stupid little synth line. I mean, it's not as bad as like, “Wrong Number” or any of the later hits that are pretty fucking bad, but man, that stupid little do-doot doo doo doo doo doo doo synth line gets stuck in my head and I want to die. BUT it closes with “Close to Me,” and not the weird trip-hop remix that's on the Greatest Hits. The one they use on This American Life all the time. I'm amazed that the upbeat pop bliss of “Close to Me” and “In Between Days” is only two albums separated from the gorgeous, dense, and I-just-can't-say-enough-good-things-because-I'm-still-falling-in-love-with-it Disintegration. We got a handful of Cure CDs at CD Tradepost towards the end of my tenure there, and one day, I was listening to this, Disentigration, and the Smiths best-ofs that came in the same by. That was during my last couple of weeks, where I decided to work as hard as everyone else and thus spent most of the time sitting behind the counter on my laptop. Summer came in from next door and got really worried, worried that all the depressing music was going to cause me to kill myself. “No,” I told her. “I got a better job, I'm really happy this just sounds right today.” She came in later that day to check on me and I was listening to Elliott Smith's XO. Sometimes sad songs just hit the spot, and I'm always amazed at how remarkably upbeat the Cure can be despite their reputation.