Happy Anniversary: The Cure, Disintegration
It’s hard to imagine a more fulfilling sensation for a musician than the experience of having your label tell you they’re concerned that your latest album is tantamount to career suicide, only to have it turn out to be your commercial apex up to that point. This, of course, is why the news of the success of the Cure’s Disintegration – which celebrates its 25th anniversary today – caused Robert Smith to kick off his shoes and go skipping giddily through the tall grass, giggling like…
Whoops, sorry, it turns out we never actually got confirmation on that particular report, so we’d better backpedal on that bit.
We do know, however, that Disintegration charted at #3 in the UK and #12 in the US, and Jeff Apter’s Never Enough: The Story of The Cure features a segment where Smith discusses Elektra’s reaction after getting their first listen of the album:
“There was just this look of absolute dismay on people’s faces,” Smith recalled. “I was informed about a week later that I was committing commercial suicide. They wanted to push the release date back – they thought I was being ‘willfully obscure,’ which was an actual quote from the letter (Smith received from Elektra). I actually kept the letter and I cherish it because Disintegration went on to sell millions. Ever since then I realized that record companies don’t have a fucking clue what The Cure does and what The Cure means. I thought it was my masterpiece and they thought it was shit.”
Certainly, Cure fans were on Smith’s side, but as has been the case on several occasions with the band, critics were surprised – and reasonably so – by how many casual listeners came to appreciate the band’s music through such a dour album. Nonetheless, singles like “Fascination Street,” “Lovesong,” “Lullaby,” and “Pictures of You” have remained radio staples over the course of the last two and a half decades, and while the band’s follow-up effort, Wish, may have been the highest-charting album of their career to date – it topped the charts in the UK and hit #2 in the States – it’s Disintegration that’s sold the most in the US, and it’s Disintegration that’s generally the go-to Cure album those of us who moped our way through our teens during the late ‘80s and early ‘90s.
It may be dark and gloomy, but it’s still a classic, so let’s celebrate 25 years of goth-y greatness by giving Disintegration another spin.