After a successful transition from the brooding yet atmospheric Goth music of the early 80s to a more accessible, pop-driven sound for 1985’s The Head on the Door. The Cure were becoming one of the hottest cult acts of the 1980s as they were gaining worldwide attention. The 1986 compilation Standing on a Beach helped increase the Cure’s audience in America as the Cure was big with the college radio crowd. With the Cure being part of the alternative music movement happening while getting some mainstream attention, the band was ready to take another step forward towards the mainstream with their 1987 double-album entitled Kiss Me, Kiss Me, Kiss Me.
Produced by Robert Smith and David M. Allen with songs written and performed by the Cure. Kiss Me, Kiss Me, Kiss Me is a sprawling album that takes the Cure’s Goth-pop sound to broader textures as it’s supported by the melodic guitar work of Smith and Porl Thompson, Simon Gallup’s thundering bass, Boris Williams’ frenetic drumming, and the swooning keyboards of Lol Tolhurst. Featuring an array of music styles ranging from quirky upbeat songs to somber ballads along with heavier yet exotic tracks. The album also include an array of lyrical themes that is prevalent to the Cure as well an indication of things that were happening. The result is a brilliant yet mesmerizing album from the Cure.
Opening the album is The Kiss that opens with steady, walloping drum fills by Boris Williams and spurting bass and guitars that is followed by swirling guitars. With Lol Tolhurst’s soothing synthesizer, the track starts out as an instrumental for nearly four minutes until Robert Smith sings snarling lyrics of despair. The ballad Catch is one of the Cure’s finest singles with its slow but soft rhythm and a somber violin performance as Smith sings calmly to the song’s lyrics of longing. The song features some amazing, arpeggio-laden guitar work from Porl Thompson that is supported by David M. Allen’s low-key yet atmospheric production. Torture is an upbeat yet heavy track led by Simon Gallup’s low but warbling bass line, pummeling beats, and driving guitars. Smith’s wailing vocals take charge with its imagery-laden lyrics filled with dark, decaying description of torment.
If Only Tonight We Could Sleep is a haunting ballad filled with ringing guitars and sitar flourishes with slow, hollow beats and Allen’s crisp production. Smith sings, after two-minutes and forty-five seconds of instrumental playing, as he demands to sleep with his beloved. The album’s first single Why Can’t I Be You? is an upbeat, dance-driven track with bopping rhythms, driving guitar spurts, and blaring synthesizer melodies as Smith sings gleefully to its playful lyrics as it’s one of the band’s best songs. How Beautiful You Are… is led by Gallup’s melodic bass line and Thompson’s washy guitar to Tolhurst’s swooning piano melodies and William’s steady drum fill. Smith sings calmly as the song is about a girl who broke his heart as he recalls the beauty of the girl as the song includes a lush production and a swooning string section.
The Snakepit is a seven-minute mid-tempo ballad with hollow, hammering beats and sturdy bass lines to complement the rich, ringing guitars and low-key keyboards that surround the song. Smith sings in a low vocal register as the lyrics include haunting imagery over the things Smith is encountering. Hey You! is a powerful, up-tempo with surf-rock style guitar and walloping beats that includes a wailing saxophone from Andrew Brennen as Smith sings demanding lyrics to be kissed. The album’s third single is the classic love song Just Like Heaven with its steady, mid-tempo rhythm that is accompanied by Thompson’s flourishing guitars and Tolhurst’s swooning synthesizer. Smiths’ captivating vocals is the highlight along with its evocative lyrics as it springs out all of the perfect words needed in a love song.
All I Want is a mid-tempo track with washy guitar snarls, hammering rhythms, and swirling keyboards as Smith sings lyrics of desperation and loss that is balanced by Allen’s superb production. The fourth single Hot Hot Hot!!! is a bopping, upbeat track with swanky guitar drives, dance-driven rhythm, and Smith’s yelping vocals. The song has Smith singing strange, idiosyncratic lyrics that is filled with humor as the song includes a trumpet solo near its coda. One More Time is a soothing, down-tempo track with arpeggio-laden guitars and melodic keyboards taking charge to the song’s ethereal presentation. Smith then sings ,after two minutes of instrumental playing, to the song’s lyrics of longing with his heart wrenching vocals.
Like Cockatoos is a track filled with swirling sounds of water with washy acoustic guitar riffs, low walloping beats, and Gallup’s wobbly bass. Smith sings in a low vocal style to the song’s esoteric lyrics filled with strange imagery as he’s later surrounded by heavy synthesized strings. Icing Sugar features a pulsating rhythm led by thundering beats, Andrew Brennan’s swooning saxophone, and Gallup’s driving bass. With Thompson’s ringing guitar following for an instrumental interlude, Smith sings to the song’s quirky yet dreary lyrics filled with stark imagery. The Perfect Girl is an upbeat song with bopping beats and chiming guitars that is accompanied by striking keyboard melodies. The song is about a girl from another world who becomes the ideal girl that Smith sings about in his calm vocal.
A Thousand Hours is a somber ballad featuring slow rhythms, a soothing piano melody, and wailing synthesizer textures as Smith wails through the song’s despaired lyrics as he’s accompanied by soothing, arpeggio guitars. Shiver and Shake is driven by attacking guitar riffs, hammering beats, and pummeling bass lines in an up-tempo track. Smith snarls through as the song’s lyrics features an aggressive tone where Smith charges at the person in the song. The album closer is Fight that is an up-tempo track with snarling guitar riffs, clapping beats with a steady live drum fill, and heavy bass lines. Smith sings calmly to the song’s numbing lyrics only to wail in the song’s more angry chorus as its mix of angst and heartbreak serves as a fitting close to the album.
The 2006 deluxe edition of the album features the original album in its first disc remastered under the supervision of Robert Smith. While the deluxe edition was supposed to be a three disc set with an additional disc filled with rarities and demos of some of the B-sides. Smith ends up deciding to have the deluxe edition feature demos, alternate takes, and rare live material from all of the tracks of the album.
The first nine tracks are instrumental demos for the songs that would be on the album. The first demo is a home demo of The Kiss performed solely by Robert Smith playing the track on swirling synthesizers and a drum machine. The rest of the demos are studio-made demos performed by the band for songs like The Perfect Girl, Like Cockatoos, All I Want, Hot Hot Hot!!!, Shiver and Shake, If Only Tonight We Could Sleep, Just Like Heaven, and Hey You! are definitely feature some very inspiring performances in their tempos and instrumentation. While some of it like Hot Hot Hot!!! and Just Like Heaven sound a bit rough, the musicianship within the band is truly inspiring.
The next three tracks are alternate studio mixes for the songs A Thousand Hours, Icing Sugar, and One More Time. The mixes are wonderful for a lot of the songs though it does lack the full sprawl that Smith and David M. Allen would put into the final mix of the album. Yet, it does feature some amazing work in the performances and the how it was coming together for the final version of the album.
The last six tracks are live bootlegs from the band’s tour to promote the album as the performance also include Roger O’Donnell on keyboards when he was just a member of the touring band. Performances of songs like How Beautiful You Are, The Snakepit, Catch, Torture, Fight, and Why Can’t I Be You?. The performances for these songs really capture very big sound the band wanted with the album as O’Donnell’s work on the keyboards help maintain that wall of sound. Even as the mix is very balanced between the music and audience reaction with Why Can’t I Be You? closing with an extended instrumental coda with driving guitars and wailing keyboards.
Released on May 25, 1987, the album peaked at number six in the U.K. charts while the album reached number 35 at the U.S. Billboard 200 album charts. The Cure’s rising commercial success thanks to their first top 40 hit with Just Like Heaven helped the band reach a mainstream audience. Despite its success, Robert Smith was becoming uneasy with the demands of stardom while the band was also dealing with Lol Tolhurst’s alcoholism that was troubling them during the making of the album. Roger O’Donnell of the Psychedelic Furs was brought in as a second keyboardist for the European leg of the tour as he later became an official member. With Smith starting to deal with depression, he would take the band back to its dark roots with their 1989 album Disintegration.
While it’s an album that isn’t entirely perfect in terms of flow and consistency, Kiss Me, Kiss Me, Kiss Me is still a remarkable and sprawling album from the Cure. While it may not be in toe with masterpieces like Faith, Pornography, The Head on the Door, and Disintegration, it is one of the band’s quintessential recordings that offers something for everyone in terms of musical tastes. Even as it features some amazing album cuts as well as singles that people love including Just Like Heaven. In the end, Kiss Me, Kiss Me, Kiss Me is a superb yet evocative album from the Cure.
The Cure Studio Albums: Three Imaginary Boys - Seventeen Seconds - Faith - Pornography - The Top - The Head on the Door - Disintegration - Wish - Wild Mood Swings - Bloodflowers - The Cure - 4:13 Dream
Compilations: Standing on a Beach/Staring at the Sea - Mixed Up - Galore - Greatest Hits - Join the Dots
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