The Cure
Seventeen Seconds



by Two-Headed Boy USER (86 Reviews)
January 26th, 2007 | 66 replies

Release Date: 1980 | Tracklist

Daddy, what's the "Eighties"?

Glad you asked, son. You see, the Eighties were a magical time in every forty-something year-old's life. Fashions were going through radical changes. The Compact Disc was making a healthy market for itself. Previously un-warm legs were in for quite a surprise. All summer long, your mother and I would listen to the music of Depeche Mode, Madonna and The Cure.

So, what I'm getting is, the music was lame and you and mom were lamer. HAHA.

Well, to be fair, I would expect as much from a young man such as yourself. Your conception of Eighties culture relies on the shoddy past that MTV confronts you with and labels true. But remember that band I just previously mentioned, The Cure? They dawned in the eighties with their post-punk sound that was initially recognizable formerly in such bands as Joy Division and Echo and the Bunnymen. But The Cure took their sound further than most bands would dare over the span of their still continuing career.

Take, for example, their 1980 album Seventeen Seconds. After the success of their first two albums (though they were essentially the same album released in different countries), Boys Don't Cry and Three Imaginary Boys, the band had a good thing going for them which continued onto Seventeen Seconds. Perhaps one way to sum up the album is to compare it to it's album art. The album art is cold and metallic, but with a sense of mystery as to what it could actually be. The Cure transmit those kinds of feelings into their sound, with it's icy and schizophrenic production inching the gloomy songcraft toward depression perfection. Often, when the legendary front man Robert Smith sings in his somewhat boyish squeak over the shivering guitar parts and almost too energetic bass, it reaches a stark and wavering peak of gloom and doom, though often subtled by the music's sheer simplicity and moving nature. The problem is, this album doesn't include that much vocal work to begin with, leaving the music to do some of the talking. Often times, it gets way too long to get anywhere and the formulaic way of the music can get repetitive after only a little while.

Now, at the time being The Cure were not the most diverse band out there. As mentioned before, the music was somewhat formulaic and reminiscent of seventies post-punk and art rock bands. But that's not to say that the song craft that the band uses is bad. In fact, it's a nice sound that they have going and the band knows how to deliver it at just the right punch and attack. Yes it's vague, doomsy and suffocatingly dark, but it's also given an almost danceable twist by its very rhythmical, downbeat and catchy undercoating. Clearly, on such tracks as A Forest and Secrets, it's dominant mood is captured by the actual music, very dark and tense, but obscured by the mood is the pure and basic catchiness and fun of a standard pop track from the era. M and Seventeen Seconds are breathtaking and simple, surrounded by a dark aura and simultaneously coated with an almost upbeat feel. It’s kind of hard to put your finger on it, but you know when Robert Smith sings lyrics like “the reasons are clear, the faces are drawn, ready for the next attack” and “time slips away, and the light begins to fade, everything is quiet now”, you can tell he’s being sincere about them. His milky voice sketched over the edgy, aching and torturously gloomy music is a thing of beauty when the listener truly decides what they want the album to be; a dance album with a dark twice, or a dark album with a dance twist.

Unfortunately, things don’t go over easy for this album. It starts off with the somewhat pointless instrumental song A Reflection which though while enjoyable doesn’t set the album up as well as one would hope for an opening song. Three and At Night both take an impossibly long time to get started, and even when things do start to warm up the listener begins to realize that the destination the band is trying reach isn’t exactly exciting at all, and both songs take the bullet as the least impressive spots on the album. But it’s the style that A Forest, In Your House and Play For Today embodies that is the most effective. Fast, energetic, true to the band’s oath to darkness and ultimately extremely enjoyable, despite the fact that it could be meant for the exact opposite kind of listening. Yes, the band had their influences but shine brightly because of their ability to sound loyal to the bands but not sounding as if they copied them note for note. Hell, one might even accuse these songs as being "fun".

So, Billy, Seventeen Seconds is a small portion of what was right with the Eighties and is a small little piece of celluloid that MTV failed to tell you about. Short, smart and artistic, this album is a great way to get to know the Cure without having to buy both Three Imaginary Boys and Boys Don't Cry and not having to reach into their most threatening periods of despair. The music is dark, the lyrics quirky, sarcastic and maybe even playful, and the production chillingly tense, this album is a Cure album alright, and got the band in the right direction for the future. All in all, if you're interested in The Cure then this is a good album to pick up for both historical purposes and enjoyment purposes. It's also probably the least gloomy the band is capable of being, so that's worth extra points. But an enjoyable release nevertheless, and worthy of your money if you're interested.

Wow, the Eighties sure were great!

*the front door slams and in come the In-Laws*

Hi, dearies, we're here to stay for the weekend! Will your room be available?

Uh oh, here we go again!

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Comments:Add a Comment 
Two-Headed Boy
January 27th 2007


Album Rating: 3.5

I'm so....so sorry.

January 27th 2007


You've been hanging with mm8 for too long.

Two-Headed Boy
January 27th 2007


Album Rating: 3.5

Nah, I just thought this would be fun.

January 27th 2007


Yeah, the intro was a bit of a stretch, but I'm not really one to talk. And if my dad started talking to me with such eloquence, I'd be pretty scared.

But you described the music well, which is what a review needs to do.

January 27th 2007


[quote=Two Headed Boy]Nah, I just thought this would be fun.[/quote]
Oh right, I always get fun and mm8 mixed up.

January 27th 2007


lol. I'm starting to like you, iare.
I took some music quiz and it said The Cure is my band. Meh.

January 27th 2007


Some Cure is awesome, some is meh. Awesome review

EDIT: @ THB. Woah, I just realized you have my name as your first name and my brother's name as your last name. h5This Message Edited On 01.26.07

January 27th 2007


Nice review.
I liked the intro.

I took some music quiz and it said The Cure is my band. Meh.

Same here, it was one that was 'Which artist shares your music tastes'.This Message Edited On 01.26.07

Electric City
January 27th 2007



January 27th 2007


Besides the dated concept (dialogues are so '05) good review. I haven't heard this Cure album in a while, but Boys Don't Cry is definitely better

January 27th 2007


Cool review. I've been diggin a lot of post-punk recently, Cure included. Haven't heard this particular album though.

January 27th 2007


Album Rating: 4.0

This isn't The Cure at their strongest. Try 'Pornography'.

....the album

The Jungler
January 27th 2007


This is one of The Cure's albums I still really need to here. I really love the singles off of it though.
Good job on the review, it was well-written and kind of funny in places. Normally I don't like concept reviews, but this one was subtle enough for me not to mind. Keep it up Two Head.

January 27th 2007


I don't know why, but I thought you were staff. :/
Good review, but like some guy up there said, if my Dad talked like this I'd slap myself to make sure I was awake, then slap my Dad.

Previously un-warm legs were in for quite a surprise.

That made me lol.

January 27th 2007


To quote Tony the Tiger: This review was Grrrrrrreat.

March 12th 2008


Brilliant review, but I wish I could say the same about the actual album.

It's very, VERY, plain in places. Doesn't sound like the Cure, and only 2 songs really sound as if they were produced properly (The rest of the songs on the album sound like a bad live bootleg). I'm talking of course of "Secrets" and "A Forest".

Still, as Cure albums go, this has it's share of good tracks, and duff tracks.

Slipping Away
August 22nd 2010


Album Rating: 4.0

One of my favorite albums, probably third in line behind pornography and disintegration for my favorite cure album (just ahead of the head on the door). A forest is probably a top 5 cure song for me.

September 24th 2010


Album Rating: 3.5

Great review, great album. "Play For Today" has to be one of The Cure's most underrated songs.

February 12th 2012


@xfearbefore-that and "In Your House"

October 2nd 2012


Album Rating: 4.0

play for today and a forest so good

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