Following the release and tour for the band’s second album Seventeen Seconds in 1980 and keyboardist Matthieu Hartley’s departure, the Cure became a trio led by singer/guitarist Robert Smith, bassist Simon Gallup, and drummer Lol Tolhurst. Yet, Hartley’s contributions for Seventeen Seconds did provide Smith ideas for what he wanted to do with the band’s third album. Taking the sound of Seventeen Seconds much further, Smith and the band decided to go for a more atmospheric yet brooding sound that plunged further into Goth music for the album called Faith.
Written, produced, and performed by the Cure with additional production from Mike Hedges, Faith is an album that takes the sound of Seventeen Seconds to a more somber setting with more melancholic yet doom-laden lyrics that are partially inspired by the works of Mervyn Peake. Featuring a much broader production with a majority of songs played at a more down-tempo presentation. The album also has the band playing a six-string bass and baritone guitars to add more dimension to the band’s burgeoning Goth sound. The result isn’t just one of the Cure’s best albums but also one of the key recordings of the Goth music genre.
Opening the album is The Holy Hour is led by a Simon Gallup’s wobbly yet melodic bass that is followed by Lol Tolhurst’s steady drum beat. Featuring a soft, swooning keyboard sound, the mid-tempo track has Smith singing in a wallowing vocal style filled with haunting lyrics about death as he also plays a smooth, washy guitar track. Primary is a song that is led by driving guitar and bass line with Tolhurst’s smooth yet pummeling drums as it features swirling keyboards to help set the mood. Smith’s eerie vocals is filled with nightmarish lyrics that has an eerie description of heartbreak. Other Voices is a chilling song led by ethereal keyboard swoons, Tolhurst’s soft drum rolls, and Smith’s tingling guitar work that is later driven by Gallup’s pulsating bass lines. Smith’s vocals is very engaging as his lyrics are filled with ghostly imagery in what is one of the band’s best songs.
All Cats Are Grey is a somber ballad led by Tolhurst’s smooth yet walloping drums and an atmospheric keyboard track that is followed by Gallup’s bass. After two minutes of instrumental playing, Smith starts to sing with his soft vocals filled with lyrics filled with despair. The Funeral Party is a gorgeous ballad led by waves of swooning synthesizers and slow, hollow beats as Smith sings in calm, wailing vocal filled with devastating lyrics that dwells on melancholia. Doubt is an upbeat track filled with driving, jangly guitars and walloping bass lines that is followed by Tolhurst’s pummeling drums. Smith sings in a snarling vocal style filled with angry lyrics that features dark imagery over what Smith wants to do.
The Drowning Man is led by slow, shaking clap-style beats and driving guitar swirls as it plays to the song’s soft yet shimmering rhythm. Featuring a soft synthesizer wail, Smith sings in his wailing vocal style with haunting lyrics that is truly harrowing in its description about a woman being drowned by a man. The album’s title track is a seven-minute piece a slow, steady drum beat and Gallup’s melodic bass line. With swooning guitars and keyboards, Smith sings in a chilling vocal style that complements the song’s doomy lyrics. Closing the album in some editions of the record is a near-28 minute instrumental piece called Carnage Visors. The piece that was originally a score piece for the short film of the same name by Simon Gallup’s brother Ric as it’s a simple instrumental with layers of guitar arpeggios, steady electronic drum beats, dripping synthesizers, and melodic bass lines that intensify throughout its entirety as the somber yet mesmerizing instrumental closes the album.
The 2005 deluxe edition of the album features the original album plus the track Carnage Visors in its remastered presentation by Robert Smith. The second disc of the album includes demos, studio outtakes, live tracks, and a remastered non-LP single for the song Charlotte Sometimes.
The first four tracks are demos with the first two being Smith’s home demos and the latter two being the group demos for cuts from the album. The home demos for Faith and Doubt are mainly instrumental with Smith playing bass and guitar in their respective tracks to a drum machine. The group demos for The Holy Hour and a rarity called Drowning, the latter of which is an instrumental piece that features a smooth, grinding guitar riff and wobbly bass lines. All of the demos do sound rough in their presentation as it brings the ideas of what these tracks would become.
The next four tracks are studio outtakes made during the sessions for the album as it includes Primary plus rarities in Going Home Time, The Violin Story, and A Normal Story. Primary is presented in a stripped-down sound with echo-laden vocals from Smith as it features a much smoother tempo instead of the bass-driven tempo for the final version of the song. Going Home Time is a bopping, upbeat track led by Gallup’s wobbly bass line and Smith’s cooing vocals. The Violin Story is a mid-tempo track with steady drums, brimming guitars, and a swooning synthesizer as Smith sings in a wavering vocal with no words. A Normal Story is another mid-tempo track with washy guitars and sturdy bass lines that is followed by a simple drum beat with driving guitars to complement Smith’s calm vocals.
The next six tracks are live cuts from the tour for the album which includes a rarity called Forever as the last of the live tracks. For the rest of the songs such as All Cats Are Grey, The Funeral Party, Other Voices, The Drowning Man, and Faith. With many of the drum tracks sounding a bit hollow and a louder mix on the synthesizers on a lot of the songs. The mix isn’t as broader in some spots where the bass isn’t heard throughout except in Other Voices and Faith, the latter of which is extended into a near ten-and-a-half minute piece. Forever is a nine-minute and nineteen second track that is driven by intense, grinding guitar riffs with pummeling bass lines and crashing drums as Smith sings tormented lyrics throughout the piece. Closing the second disc of the deluxe edition is a remastered version of the classic non-LP single Charlotte Sometimes. A mid-tempo track with a hammering electronic beat, brooding bass lines, and a swooning keyboard melody, the song is one of the band’s defining singles. With Smith singing in a broad, multi-tracked vocal that features morose lyrics of longing as it is a fitting close to the deluxe version of the album.
Released on April 11, 1981, the album was becoming a hit in the U.K. charts as the band’s sound was reaching a wider audience. Yet, fans of the earlier material were dismayed when the band chose to focus on playing newer material to complement the Goth sound they had embraced. This new role would have repercussions to Smith’s state of mind where he was extremely emotional during the band’s shows. This new role would end up playing part as inspiration to the band’s next album which would be 1982’s Pornography.
Faith is a brilliant yet dreary album from the Cure that isn’t just one of their best albums but also a record that is essential for anyone interested in Goth music. Among the many albums the Cure has created, this album is definitely one of the three best albums of their career along with 1982’s Pornography and 1989’s Disintegration as they all define the Cure at their best. In the end, Faith is a mesmerizing yet harrowing masterpiece from the Cure.
The Cure Studio Albums: Three Imaginary Boys - Seventeen Seconds - Pornography - The Top - The Head on the Door - Kiss Me, Kiss Me, Kiss Me - Disintegration - Wish - Wild Mood Swings - Bloodflowers - The Cure - 4:13 Dream
Compilations: Staring at the Sea/Standing on a Beach - Mixed Up - Galore - Greatest Hits - Join the Dots
© thevoid99 2011