The Cure’s The Head on the Door album picks right up where Japanese Whispers– an assortment of non-album singles and b-sides – left off. Which is to say that the Cure were experimenting with dance music and shiny pop hooks, but never losing their identity as gloomy existentialist New Wavers. On this they added a hint of Latin rhythm (“The Blood”), invented shoegazing (“Push”), and got in touch with the gloriously beautiful Gothic pop sonic landscapes they would develop even further on Kiss Me, Kiss Me, Kiss Me and Disintegration (“Six Different Ways”), The Head on the Door shouldn’t work, at all really, but it’s a beautiful slice of British New Wave. There’s even a quick exploration of a semi-hard rock sound (“Push”).
“The Baby Screams” marries their alternative rock roots with their off-kilter pop song craft. And that bubbling musical note throughout probably kept most up-and-comers awake trying to figure out just what made that noise. Robert Smith also sounds like he’s whispering his vocals in a very large hallway and he’s on the other side of it. While “Close to Me” is a mope-rock classic. His demented cat-in-heat wail is restrained enough to be slightly unnerving, but sad enough to be inviting. I also prefer the album version not ending with the horn section. Instead, it ends abruptly and moves right on to “A Night Like This.” The experimentalism only adds more depth and texture to their great songs. Check the flamenco guitar on “The Blood” – a song about the blood of Christ paralyzing you. Obviously someone has a complicated relationship with their Catholic upbringing, or he’s really good at faking it. This is but one of the many reasons why I love the Cure – they could make you dance around, but they’re smart enough to give you a lyric or an image to stop and make you think.
The Head On the Door is just a literate, existentialist and flat out strange as any of the best Cure albums, in fact, this is one of the best Cure albums. Every single on here ranks among their best work, and the album tracks aren’t anything to scoff at. This definitely ranks with Disintegration, Kiss Me, Kiss Me, Kiss Me, Pornography and Boys Don’t Cry as one of their standout discs. DOWNLOAD: “The Blood”