The Cure
The Top


3.0
good

Review

by Tom93M USER (139 Reviews)
July 10th, 2011 | 12 replies


Release Date: 1984 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Polar bear dreams…

‘The Top’ is a pretty weird album from a pretty weird time in The Cure’s history. The band’s line-up was as tenuous as ever, with Gallup still one album away from rejoining his pals Robert Smith and Lol Tolhurst, and to top it off, the existing members were still having a bit of trouble working together, leaving Smith with the unenviable task of writing all the material and playing the majority of instruments himself.

As such, the album feels a little uncertain of itself, sticking its fragile fingers into several pies in an attempt to find a flavour suited to this shaky and streamlined incarnation of The Cure. A vast array of styles and sounds are blended together, with Smith building on the left-field ‘Japanese Whispers’ singles, taking their poppier sound and channelling it into untouched ground. It’s safe to say ‘The Top’ is definitely a transitional and experimental album - an unfocused pre-curser to albums like ‘The Head On The Door’ that would perfect and improve on the groups changing musical direction.

However, said uncertainty actually ends up benefiting the album to a certain extent, as unlikely as it sounds. Because Smith was dabbling with oodles of new sounds and ideas, the album shapes up as an exciting and consistently curious experience - casually throwing in odd noises and experimental concepts wherever it sees fit. The result is a swirling and surprising wave of playfulness, far from the rigid, tightly-coiled greyness of earlier outings.

The album bounces between crunchy, psychedelic numbers like the snarling opener ‘Shake Dog Shake’ and bizarrely exotic, eastern-tinged excursions such as ‘Bird Mad Girl’ - one of the albums highlights, as it goes. In fact, it’s difficult to label the album with a single accurate genre tag, other than to say it’s an exotic, psychedelic post-punk whirlwind, complete with terrifically weird and weirdly terrific moments like ‘Wailing Wall’, accompanied by its bubbling undercurrent of distorted moans and groans, and the pugnacious frustration of ‘Give Me It’ - a solid number with frenetic percussion and guitars so fuzzy they end up sounding more like chainsaws than string instruments.

But for every strong outing, such as the marching drums of ‘The Empty World’ or the menacing, pulsing bass line present in the silly-named ‘Bananafishbones’, the album has a less compelling counterpart to match, such as the pointless ‘Dressing Up’ or the too-sluggish-for-it’s-own-good ‘The Top’. Fortunately, the number of intriguing moments slightly outweighs the amount of weaker ones when the album is given a fair chance to grow on the listener - it is an experimental outing after all, so not every song will hit big instantly, perhaps even more so for those Cure fans still stuck in the bands gothic phase.

‘The Top’ captures The Cure in a transitional period, and as such, some of its experiments and ideas don’t quite gel, but when they do work they’re intriguing and surprisingly effective. The key to getting the most out of ‘The Top’ is to simply understand that it’s experimental and transitional, so it’s uniqueness can take a little longer than usual to set in, and even then, not every track will be a big hit, given the album’s eclecticism. With all that mind, the best consumer advice one could issue, is thus: take it with a pinch of salt and just enjoy it for what it is - an odd, chaotic, wild, unrestrained, and more than anything else, crucial chapter in the band’s history.



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user ratings (406)
3.1
good
other reviews of this album
Kaleid (3)
A bizarre, chaotic album from a 'band' that didn't know WHAT was going on. Also contains some real ...

WilhelmBlack (4.5)
This flickering Bird Mad Girl needs you to please come back and love it....


Comments:Add a Comment 
Tom93M
July 10th 2011


1106 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0 | Sound Off

Almost half way through my reviews of The Cure's discography now.

Acanthus
July 10th 2011


9812 Comments


As such, the album feels a little uncertain of itself, sticking its fragile fingers into several pies in an attempt to find a flavour suited to this shaky and streamlined incarnation of The Cure.

Really enjoyed the imagery here!

Tom93M
July 10th 2011


1106 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0 | Sound Off

Acanthus - Haha thanks, man - i dunno where that came from but i kinda like it, so i left it in.



Acanthus
July 10th 2011


9812 Comments


I just can imagine Robert Smith sitting there, hair crazily going in every direction, with a plethora of pies laid out in front of him.

Tom93M
July 10th 2011


1106 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0 | Sound Off

Acanthus - LOL! Quite an amusing image, when you put it like that! All this pie talk has made me quite peckish.

Acanthus
July 10th 2011


9812 Comments


I just finished breakfast so I can't feel your pain on that one, but I know what you mean!

Kaleid
July 10th 2011


741 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Yup, you nailed this one. Surprised you didn't mention Caterpillar, although Bird Mad Girl is the best (one of my favourite Cure songs)

Tom93M
July 10th 2011


1106 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0 | Sound Off

Kaleid - Thanks, bud.



I was thinking about metioning 'Caterpillar' but didn't deem it neccessary in the end. I actually quite like that track - quite hypnotic. I agree that 'Bird Mad Girl' is one of the stongest efforts on here, alongside 'Wailing Wall', 'Shake Dog Shake' and 'Give Me It' - the only other tracks on here that i like that much.



Meatplow
August 1st 2011


5524 Comments


last half of this was badass

ksoflas
September 24th 2015


1278 Comments


Ace review, pos'd.

WilhelmBlack
October 8th 2015


603 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Amazing review but this album is so heavily underrated but I am a huge Cure fan.

Tokyochuchu
February 14th 2017


95 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I really like the chaotic nature of this LP. I prefer this to the slicker 'A Head on the Door'. I might be the only one, though...



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