Review Summary: Throw out all your emo records..
From what i've seen, pretty much everybody's favourite album by the Cure is Disintegration. Pornography (which I admittedly still have to hear) apparently comes close, but this is pretty much cited as their magnum opus, and hugely influential, the latter of which definitely can't be denied. The melodic sensibilities have been borrowed by countless bands over the years, bands of a similar vein to The Cure and bands in a completely different genre alike. For example, one can clearly hear their influence across even the post hardcore genre, especially in the basslines. Anyway, onto the album itself.
With Disintegration, Robert Smith and co. elected to make most of the songs extremely long, and extremely (for lack of a better word) emotional. The drums thud with a very 80s sound (however the album doesn't sound dated by any means), there is plenty of reverb and a very large soundscape. The guitar and bass are treated with equal importance, with many of the songs being based around a bassline. The guitar sound throughout the album is fantastic, with lots of reverb which suits the harmonic and melodic nature of the riffs and chords they choose to use. To put this more elequoently, the album sounds melodically melancholy and wistful.
However, as sad as the record sounds, it is unlikely to depress. It's far too pretty and melodic. It may change your mood for a while, but it definitely wont make you sad. I would reccomend it to anybody, except perhaps for somebody who seriously needs to cheer the *** up. It's a classic album that anybody can enjoy, and it contains strong songs the entire way through, and several downright classics. It's only flaw is in the track length, but strangely, the tracks don't seen to last as long as they are. Mainly due to being consistent and usually based around a bassline.
The first standout track on the record is the second, "Pictures of You", a 7 minute song, somewhat upbeat with a great bassline (almost every song on the record has a very memorable bassline, as i've stated) and great melody. It's probably the only song that drags a little, but it's also one of the best, and stands out as the first classic track on the record. "Lovesong" has a pretty little keyboard driven riff and some amazing melodies from Smith, with a sombre sound but somewhat upbeat lyrics. Another of the classics on the record.
"Last Dance" is another great song which helps the record along smoothly, and it is followed by "Lullaby", my personal favourite track on the record and one of The Cure's defining songs. This song has everything, a great bassline, fantastic, evocative lyrics (About a "spider man" Smith had nightmares about as a young boy, which he could be using as a metaphor for several things), great guitar and melody, etc. This is the track that got me and I expect a lot of other people to check this record out.
"Fascination Street" is one of the saddest sounding songs on the record, but also one of the most memorable. When listening to this album, it was around the time Fascination Street hit me that I realised this record was already one of my favourites and that on this record The Cure perfected the art of sad, melodic music that so many modern day bands are doing well, but none of whom will top Disintegration.
From there on the record sails along without letting up. However, i'd feel like i'd be doing the record a disservice without mentioning the title track, "Disintegration". This is a song that literally defines the record, though much too long to be released as a single, this is probably the song that best exemplifies the album. Wistful melodies and lyrics, extremely melodramatic (but in a good way; this album proves that you can be as over the top as you want as long as you have the songwriting skills to make it work). The song is somewhat relentless, with the bassline staying the whole way throughout the song, the 8 minutes of which fly past. A true epic and a truly great song.
Overall, if you're even lightly considering picking this record up, I can't reccomend it more. Its a classic, and definitely one of my all-time favourites already. Smith and co. have somewhat drifted off in the songwriting department since this, whether or not their heart has been in it or whether after this they felt they'd exhausted their chemistry is anyones guess, but it's a testament to this album that, even 20 years after it's release, The Cure are still one of the biggest bands in the world, and indeed one of the biggest bands of all time. An almost perfect record, and a gem in any collection.