The Cure and Robert Smith
Quick, think about the world's most famous musicians. Perhaps the Beatles and the Rolling Stones come to mind. But the Cure has sold more than 30 million albums worldwide, including 8.5 million in the United States alone.
Robert Smith and the Cure have been making music for more than 40 years, and they show no signs of stopping. Yet few people are aware of the Cure's long history. If you want to be a true music connoisseur, you need to answer a few questions.
How did the Cure get started? How has their music evolved over time? What is the band doing currently, and when will their next albums come out?
Get the facts, and you can become a true expert in all things the Cure. Here is your quick guide.
The Early Years of Robert Smith
Robert Smith was born on April 21, 1959. His mother was a piano player, and his father was a singer, and both gave him an early introduction to music.
He started receiving piano lessons in school, but he transitioned to the guitar to distinguish himself from his siblings. Smith spent many hours listening to music, including art rock icons like David Bowie.
Smith met Laurence Tolhurst and Michael Dempsey at school when he was a teenager. They formed a band called Obelisk that played at an end-of-the-year show in April 1973.
After that experience, Smith played with Tolhurst, Dempsey, and their other friends in a band called Malice. Malice changed their name to Easy Cure in 1977, and the band signed their first recording contract in May of that year.
Easy Cure completed their first studio demo sessions in October and November 1977. The band produced "Killing an Arab" during this time, which eventually became the lead single on Three Imaginary Boys.
During this time, Smith emerged as the leader of the group. Though his bandmates wrote songs, he decided where the band played and who played in the band.
In 1978, he trimmed the band down to himself, Dempsey, and Tolhurst. He also renamed the band the Cure.
The Cure band released "Killing an Arab" in December 1978. It was a commercial success and received positive reviews from NME and other publications. In May 1979, they released Three Imaginary Boys, launching their band to stardom, though Dempsey was fired from the Cure shortly afterward.
Smith was frustrated by studio interference on Three Imaginary Boys. For the Cure's second album, Seventeen Seconds, he controlled the production process and added other musicians to the band's lineup. He also changed the style of the music, adopting mainstream pop influences.
Seventeen Seconds was successful, and the Cure launched their first world tour to promote it. During live performances, Smith developed his now-trademark appearance of red lipstick, black eyeliner, and all-black clothes.
The Cure released two more albums in the early 1980s. However, rumors circulated that the Cure had broken up in 1982, as several members of the band had left.
This prompted Smith to explore new types of music. For the band's fifth album, The Top, he made psychedelic songs on which he played the majority of the instruments. The Top reached the top 10 in the charts in the UK and charted on the Billboard 200.
Smith continued to mix psychedelic, rock, and punk music on his next albums. By 1988, the Cure was entering the Billboard Top 40 and producing several successful singles. In 1989, the album Disintegration reached #12 on the American charts and sold millions of copies.
During the 1980s, Smith also pursued various solo projects and collaborations. In particular, he was a member of Siouxsie and the Banshees in 1983 and 1984.
The 1990s and 2000s
As the Cure became one of the most famous bands in the world, tensions emerged. Tolhurst developed an addiction to alcohol and struggled to work with the rest of the band. In February 1989, he was fired.
During the early 1990s, the lineup shifted several times as members left to join other bands. The Cure continued to produce popular albums, with Wish (1992) topping the UK charts.
But in 1994, Smith and Perry Bamonte were the only two people left in the Cure. Wild Mood Swings (1996) and Galore (1997) both underperformed, leading Smith to believe that the Cure had lost their commercial appeal.
Smith focused on rebuilding the band and performing live tours. In 2004, the Cure headlined Coachella and a concert tour of North America. The band did not release a further album until 2008, which is their most recent release.
The band has toured various times over the last ten years, including in the United States. The Cure also began receiving a number of honors, including entry into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2019.
In 2021, Smith said that the Cure had recorded two albums, one optimistic and one pessimistic. The release dates for these albums have not been released. In 2022, the band went on an international tour that is currently ongoing.
Smith continues to pursue solo projects and collaborations, including with former Cure members. Over the last ten years, he has worked with Gorillaz, Paul Hartnoll, and the Twilight Sad.
The Cure Discography
Three Imaginary Boys (1979)
Three Imaginary Boys is the debut studio album by The Cure, released in 1979. The album features a mix of post-punk and showcases the band's early sound.
Lyrically, the album deals with love, loss, and youthful rebellion themes. One of the standout tracks on the album is "Boys Don't Cry." This was the band's first hit single and remains a fan favorite to this day.
The song's lyrics are memorable and relatable. Other tracks on the album, such as "Grinding Halt" and "Fire in Cairo," showcase the band's experimentation with different sounds and styles.
These songs laid the foundation for the more diverse and eclectic music they would go on to make in the future.
Seventeen Seconds (1980)
Seventeen Seconds is the first album to feature keyboardist Matthieu Hartley. It marks a departure from the band's earlier post-punk sound.
The album includes the hit single "A Forest." This is one of The Cure's most well-known and beloved songs that stands out in their band discography.
The track features ominous, atmospheric instrumentation and lyrics that explore the theme of isolation and loneliness.
Other tracks on the album, such as "M" and "Play for Today," continue to explore these themes. These tracks also showcase the band's growing interest in incorporating gothic rock and new wave elements into their music.
Compared to their debut album Three Imaginary Boys, Seventeen Seconds is a more cohesive and polished release that showcases the band's maturing sound and songwriting skills.
This album is a significant departure from the band's earlier sound. It marks the beginning of their transition into a more gothic and introspective direction.
Lots of the album's songs deal with themes related to loss and love. Many of the lyrics explore finding meaning in the aftermath of heartbreak.
The album's title track, "Faith," is a somber and contemplative ballad reflecting on the idea of faith in oneself and others.
Other standout tracks on the album include "The Funeral Party," which features brooding guitar work and dark, romantic lyrics, and "Primary," an upbeat and energetic song.
Overall, "Faith" is a powerful and emotive album that solidified The Cure's place as one of the leading bands in the gothic rock genre. If you only listen to several of The Cure albums in your lifetime, this should be one of them.
The album is widely regarded as a classic of the gothic rock genre. Overall, it has a more dark and brooding sound.
The album's title track, "Pornography," is a song that reflects on the destructive nature of sexual addiction.
Other standout tracks on the album include "One Hundred Years," a somber and epic ballad that explores the torture and hopelessness of the human condition.
On the other hand, "The Hanging Garden" is a more upbeat and catchy song. It features infectious guitar work and catchy lyrics.
The Top (1984)
This album features a more experimental and eclectic approach to songwriting. Themes of identity, transformation, and the search for self are prevalent throughout the album.
Many lyrics explore breaking free from societal expectations and finding one's true identity.
The album's title track, "The Top," is a playful song that showcases the band's ability to experiment with different genres. "The Caterpillar" is a dreamy and atmospheric song.
It features ethereal vocals and lyrics about metamorphosis. "Dressing Up" explores the theme of escapism and the desire to shed one's skin and start anew.
The Head on the Door (1985)
This album features a more accessible and radio-friendly sound than the band's earlier releases.
The album's title track, "The Head on the Door," has infectious guitar work and lyrics about the unpredictable nature of love and relationships.
Kiss Me, Kiss Me, Kiss Me (1987)
Kiss Me, Kiss Me Kiss Me draws from a wide range of genres such as pop, rock, and experimental. In comparison to the band's earlier albums, Kiss Me, Kiss Me, Kiss Me is a more polished and commercial release.
It showcases The Cure's ability to craft catchy and accessible songs while maintaining their signature introspective and emotional style.
This album would appeal to listeners who enjoy alternative rock music with a more upbeat and pop-influenced sound.
This is a unique album in the band discography. It sold over three million copies and helped turn the band into superstars who filled entire stadiums.
The band recorded this album at a time when Robert Smith was suffering from depression. Other band members, such as the keyboardist Lol Tolhurst, struggled with personal issues.
Tolhurst ended up leaving the band during this time due to alcohol-related issues.
Despite these setbacks, The Cure created an album that many critics believe defines their music. Just like some of the band's earlier albums, Disintegration has a dark and gloomy aesthetic.
The band recorded Wish during the band's most commercial and successful period. During this period, the band had a more energetic and accessible sound.
The album has several pop songs, such as "High" and "Friday I'm in Love." These songs are catchy, clever, and upbeat.
Another memorable song is "Doing the Unstuck." During this song, Smith, the band's lead singer, explodes with joy: "Kick out the gloom! / Kick out the blues! / Tear out the pages with all the bad news!"
The Mood Swings (1993)
Compared to the band's later albums, The Mood Swings is a more edgy release. But this album has a wide variety of emotions and textures. For example, the song "The 13th" features mariachi lounge horns.
Even though the album is surprisingly unique, it still has a similar sound to some of their earlier albums, thanks to the way the band uses tinny synthesizers and guitar effects.
Critics say that Robert Smith sounds more confident and content than he ever has before on this album.
Bloodflowers is the third in a trilogy of albums, including Pornography and Disintegration. Robert Smith wanted to create a more classic The Cure album.
It has stately tempos, languid melodies, and spacious echoes. As a whole, Bloodflowers is a more self-conscious, downbeat, and tense album.
The album opens with "Out of This World," a longer and more atmospheric song. There are also great acoustic tracks, such as "There is No If."
Many critics do not feel it lives up to many of the band's previous albums.
The Cure (2004)
The Cure's lead singer, Robert Smith, decided to hire Ross Robinson to produce this album. Many people know him for his collaborations with the likes of Korn, Limp Bizkit, and Slipknot.
Robinson's goal was to fit the band into an edgy "nu-metal" genre that was popular then.
The band quickly recorded and released this album. Even though the album does not sound hurried, it lacks the thematic and musical unity that the band's previous albums have.
One of the most memorable songs is "The Promise," a powerful minor-key epic. It also has lighter and more poppy songs, such as "The End of the World."
Many critics think that this album was a failure, and many of The Cure's die-hard fans consider this one of the band's less memorable albums.
4:13 Dream (2008)
This album is much better than the band's previous album, partly because the band made the wise decision to part ways with Ross Robinson.
One of the most exciting tracks on the album is "Underneath the Stars." The track features multi-layered and mysterious vocals.
As the first song on the album, it disguises the fact that this is the band's most poppy release since Wish.
Another track that stands out is "Siren Song." This acoustic song is mellow and dreamy.
Many critics say that this album has too many half-baked and formless songs. 4:13 Dream is one of the band's more poppy albums, but it does not embody the spirit of some of their earlier albums.
A Brief History of the Cure
The Cure started in the 1970s with Robert Smith and his friends. The band gained popularity for their Gothic rock, but Smith adopted pop and psychedelic styles as time went on. The Cure reached their peak during the late 1980s and early 1990s.
Smith and his bandmates are currently working on two albums and touring. Smith also has years of success as a solo musician and collaborator.
If you love the Cure, you should listen to some of the artists they've influenced. Play Alone Records provides premium post-punk albums. Listen to our artists today.