Sunday, August 17, 2008
Faith - The Cure (Remastered Double Disc)
SCQ Rating: 90%
Arriving late to the majesty that is The Cure discography, I was fortunate enough to discover their 1981 classic Faith twice. February 2006: I found myself ending each night burrowed deep in my basement room of a shared house, playing Faith from beginning to end while drifting in and out of sleep. Lights out and letting those hollow basslines feel around the room, I memorized that record like a blind man counting steps around his house; 'The Holy Hour' was an open invitation to fully connect with sorrow, 'Primary' and 'Doubt' were the two post-punk rebels I held in anticipation (or else they'd scare me half to death), 'Drowning Man' was my echo-drenched favourite, the title track my nursery rhyme of the highest merit. November 2006: Moved cities, changed jobs and found myself working a nightshift job. Each night I worked in repetitions, hands over the same objectives and mind cycling the same thoughts, but took solace in my humble MP3 player which, among many artists featured Faith in its entirety. Its dirge-style percussion, unforgettable basslines and Smith's tormented vocals had stolen me once again - this time assuring me that I'd found a personal favourite record - although I had a good idea why it needed that encore to fully sink in.
Even without the guidance of those two vivid, month-consuming memories, Faith is a nocturnal record... the kind people could hear once, cast off as boring, and feel completely at peace with their opinion. At first listen, these eight songs are as monochromatic as the artwork; barren and nihilistic by nature, similar in mood and content. For those who found peace and understanding beneath Smith's dark allusions, however, Faith is a bittersweet collection, nurtured together with a grace that The Cure have yet to top since. The back alley paranoia that occasionally unsettles 'Other Voices' builds upon a bass hook, tightening to a sinister groove, while 'Primary' reminds us of The Cure's roots as post-punk pioneers alongside Siouxshie and the Banshees and Joy Division. Best of all are 'All Cats are Grey' and 'The Funeral Party', the back-to-back centerpiece that finds the band exploring musical and studio space; delving into keyboard atmospherics and gothy dreampop. Such subtleties are best felt in the night, when you're alone and open to every nuance; both of my Faith discoveries (the first, enjoying it, the second, adoring it) were courtesy of Smith and Co.'s focus and vision. The fact that they were experimenting heavily with drugs at the time makes these results all the more baffling.
And now, with the release of Faith in remastered, double-disc form, I've owned it twice. A record this crisp, when remastered, runs miles around the analog-recorded original and unearthed a few keyboard shimmers and vocal loops I'd missed in the past. The real ticket here is 'Carnage Visors: The Soundtrack', a nearly half-hour instrumental that, placed lovingly at the end of Faith, completes the record in a way Smith had always intended. Compared to the brevity of the original record, 'Carnage Visors' is a bit of a marathon, but it's a suite that's undeniably tied to Faith in aesthetic and mood. Its companion disc, a collection of demos and outtakes from the Faith session, is less immediate but contains all the curios that fans will theorize over as well as the single 'Charlotte Sometimes' - a favourite that was only available on their first greatest hits compilation until now.
Saying that this isn't a record for everyone might qualify for understatement of the year - I know Cure fans who've never really taken to it - but for those in need of a personal, wintry comedown record, Faith is truly an original artifact of the slowcore and post-punk scenes colliding. One of the most elegant crashes I've heard.