Review Summary: A big, fat, smothering kiss.
The Cure’s seventh studio LP is a suffocating French kiss from the plumpest, most rouged red lips you can imagine - enticing and enjoyable, at least until the amount of times its tongue is rammed down your throat begins to seem rather excessive. Let me elaborate…
‘Kiss Me’s 18 tracks are oftentimes like a kiss, when frequently beautiful moments such as ‘Just Like Heaven’ crop up and plant a firm one on your cheek, complete with sharply considered pop hooks and invigorating guitar work. But at other times, and less frequently, as crucially needs to be pointed out, it doesn’t feel like said kiss, but rather a tongue-down-throat affair from a lover who has too much lipstick coating her fulsome lips, leaving an ugly red smudge at the corners of your mouth.
To put it in layman’s terms, the album has a number of lovely moments but also far more tracks than it really needs, which spoils the experience (or ‘kiss’, to go back to my clunky analogy for just a moment) the slightest amount. It’s bloated and plump and could’ve benefited from some trimming - cutting out some of its weaker tracks, just leaving highlights like the bouncy, pop-charm of ‘Why Can’t I Be You’, and the lengthy but stunning opening track ‘The Kiss’, behind.
Having touched upon it earlier, the album, thankfully, stuns more than it repels. In addition to those already praised above, other worthwhile cuts include the violin backing and hypnotic bass of ‘Catch’; the rumbling rhythm section on ‘Torture’; the faux exotic sway of ‘If Only We Could Sleep Tonight’; the surprising intrusion of sleazy sax on ‘Hey You!’; Smith’s superb vocals on the anthemic ‘All I Want’; the dark, swirling ‘Shiver and Shake’, and the left-field funk of ‘Hot! Hot! Hot!’.
At the same time, the album throws in unnecessary filler to reach its goal of creating a giant album, designed to push the burgeoning compact disc technology to its youthful max. Superfluous numbers include the mostly instrumental ‘Snakepit’, which drags its hypnotic melody out for a weary seven minutes; the downright silly ‘Like Cockatoos’; the unnecessary ‘Icing Sugar’, and the overly familiar ‘The Perfect Girl’.
Count them up, though, and you’ll see there’s an abundance of worthwhile moments - far more than there are skipable ones. Most albums would dream of containing as many gems as this outing, and that says more than any long-winded analogies like the very one this writer attempted earlier, could ever hope to. That’s what ‘Kiss Me, Kiss Me, Kiss Me’ encapsulates, really - a bloated concept, but one with enough value to warrant an investment of time and care from the listener. To return to said ‘long-winded’ analogy for one last self-indulgent moment; I’ll sign off thusly. It may be a big, fat, smothering kiss, but there’s still good reason to want to find ‘Kiss Me’s shade of lipstick smudged on the collar of your shirt.