My attempt to blog all of the entries from the book 1001 Albums to Hear Before You Die
Brief Background: Pornography is the fourth studio album by UK band the Cure. Robert Smith thought that this would be the final album for the group. Fueled by drug use (if I remember right mostly hallucinogenics), alcohol abuse and depression, Smith, and the group were not in a healthy mental state when writing and recording the album. In fact, the band slept in the studio while recording the album, having alcohol delivered to the studio daily. During the recording, they would also watch whatever horrible videos they could find which added to their demented mental state. The album would take three weeks to record during the beginning of 1982 and was released in July of the same year. Robert Smith calls it the first of a trilogy of linked albums. The second is 1989’s Disintegration and 2000’s Bloodflowers.
What I think: I have a similar experience with this album as I do with Seventeen Seconds. It’s been a tough album for me to listen to for much of my life, but I’ve recently been able to embrace it a little more. Whereas Seventeen Seconds had some emotional variation, the whole of Pornography is from a depth of desperation and despair. The person who wrote these lyrics never believed they were going to have any sort of happiness again, that person was just going to self-destruct and this would be his last statement to the world. Thankfully, it (wasn’t) isn’t as Smith was able to climb out of that all-encompassing hole to have one of the most fascinating careers for any band of that time. That makes this album a lot more interesting than if it had been a suicide note. Smith had such amazing despair and was able to come back from it. It’s a marker of a time in his life when it was it’s most fragile.
When those lyrics are put together with the music you get something that should be boring, it’s the sound of exhaustion. I feel like the bass and drums could be the same on every song and I wouldn’t notice. The guitar is rather simple and sometimes in discord with the rest of the music and Smith’s vocal is spread over the whole thing with echo. When it all comes together, it is somehow so empowering. It’s something you look at to say… “This is how bad it can get, and thankfully I’m not in that place.” And one hopes they never have to be, as it is dark down there.
P.S. That cover is the creepiest album cover I’ve ever seen. The blurring effect on it might even soften things, as I believe those three in focus would have been even scarier.
Do I agree or disagree with the writers as to this being an album you must listen to? I think it should be here. It’s a tortured soul-baring album. Sometimes that can be overindulgent, but here it makes you realize how close to the abyss he was.
Rating (Out of 5) 5
Is this my first time hearing this album? No (121/510)
Amount that are new to me: 76%