The Cure
The Top


4.5
superb

Review

by WilhelmBlack USER (12 Reviews)
October 8th, 2015 | 6 replies


Release Date: 1984 | Tracklist

Review Summary: This flickering Bird Mad Girl needs you to please come back and love it.

I am probably one of the biggest fans of The Cure on Sputnikmusic. I have made at least 3 or 4 lists based around the best albums The Cure has released. I remember getting on this site when I was a newbie and I saw how low the rating was for this album. A 3.1 currently and it is rather sad considering this is the most underrated gem out of their catalog. Now this is a loaded gun term because there are some that say it is either "Wish" or "Bloodflowers" or even Emo Cure that is underrated. However, upon listening to all of these albums several times, they do not match up to the schizophrenic yet somewhat moody "The Top".

Released during the aftermath of Simon Gallup leaving the band, the yin to Robert Smith's yang, Robert Smith was stuck with the mostly useless Lou Tolhurst (at least during this time period of the band). This album is dubbed as the solo album Robert Smith never released underneath his name; he could of because he did everything to create this manic and psychedelic album. Robert Smith even admitted later to intentionally trying to sing off-key and terrible yet I really cannot tell the differences between his vocals on this album compared to those of "Head on the Door". He certainly switched his voice on this album when it is compared to that of "Pornography" but this switch occurred on "Japanese Whispers". However, a lot of Cure fans are polarized by this album because between this and "Japanese Whispers" represents as the transition phase from gloomy doom music of the Gothic trilogy to sappy and more commercial Cure. This album could be compared to "The Head on the Door" as both these two albums are schizophrenic by nature, however "The Head on the Door" is tamer compared to the almost bipolar nature of "The Top". For people wanting to get into The Cure, this is not The Cure album to listen to if you want to do so. Listen to "Disintegration" and the Gothic Trilogy (Seventeen Seconds, Faith, and Pornography).

Diving into the album, what is distinctly different between "Shake Dog Shake" and that of the previous work done by The Cure is the influence of Psychedelia. The Cure has never really dabbled into Psychedelic stuff before although Robert Smith was at one point a known user of LSD having used it during the making of the Gothic Trilogy and Disintegration at least. "Shake Dog Shake" is really the first song The Cure wrote that is heavily influenced by Psychedelia. It is already breaking new ground compared to the nihilistic sound of "Pornography" and the synth-based 180 degree turn that is "Japanese Whispers". "Shake Dog Shake" is mostly upbeat compared to most of the songs off of "Pornography". It is also one of my favorite songs by The Cure.

The poppy songs off this album are "Bird Mad Girl", "The Caterpillar" (on Staring at the Sea), and "Dressing Up" are the more accessible off of this album that newbies possibly will enjoy the most if they were to listen to this album first. "Bird Mad Girl" is a softer song compared to the latter two but the weird imagery of feeling like a polar bear is rather a new concept that Robert Smith invited. "The Caterpillar" is the most well-known song off of this album; it is featured on "Staring at the Sea" which is The Cure's first collection of singles (not greatest hits). The song itself kind of has a menacing presence due to the cacophonic playing of the keyboard and violin. I personally interpret this as a Caterpillar trying to communicate. "Dressing Up" is a retro song that screams eighties all over it however it is among my favorite on this album. It is upbeat and rather catchy; this song is a prime example of where Robert Smith is intentionally trying to mess up his vocals. However, it just makes the song more enjoyable.

The oddest song off this album is "Bananafishbones" which actually is played at a semitone lower than it was meant to be. This is due to a mastering error that would be corrected on the 2006 re-release of this album. It has a synth line that would seem to fit on a XTC album and lyrics that seem to have come from an acid trip. It is the most psychedelically influenced song off of this album and is worth a listen.

The only real weakness on this album that does not make me give it an automatic five is "Wailing Wall" just being a tad bit longer than I would like. It is the second longest song off the album but I feel like it could have used a little bit of trimming. I do enjoy the Middle Eastern vibes of the song, something that would not be explored by the band again until "The Snakepit" off of "Kiss Me. Kiss Me, Kiss Me". I also felt like it was a mistake to put it right after "Bird Mad Girl" as it makes that section of the album slower than it was intended to be. The album itself is supposed to be more upbeat compared to the mostly downbeat "Gothic Trilogy" of The Cure.

The last song is the title track, something that would not be done again until "Bloodflowers". Compared to the rest of the album, this song is definitely more sluggish and downbeat, almost reminiscent of the Faith era of The Cure. The song itself also has more of a meaning behind it. It is the easiest song by far to analysis because it seems to be about something. The song itself seems to be about either a relationship or about Simon Gallup leaving the band. The Top motif seems to be about his crazy drug-induced life or the turmoil of the band falling apart. It is my second favorite song off this album, the first being either "Bird Mad Girl" or "The Caterpillar".

Personally I do not think this album is nearly as bad or as tacky as what a lot of users on this site make it out to be. It is the start of the poppy commercial Cure and it is the most diverse and unique release by The Cure. It is in my opinion the most underrated Cure album released by the band. I recommend it to Cure fans or to people who just like weird and schizophrenic music in general.

4.5/5



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Comments:Add a Comment 
WilhelmBlack
October 8th 2015


603 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

I am hoping not to get berated for loving this album. I know Robert Smith hates this album but musicians are rarely their best critics, he also loves Wild Mood Swings and is in his top 5 list. Shoot, I already released a review today. I released my Vision Thing review before midnight on 10/7.

oltnabrick
October 8th 2015


40703 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

my least favorite of their 80s albums.

WilhelmBlack
October 8th 2015


603 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

For me personally that is Japanese Whispers but that is considered an ep oddly because it has 8 songs which the gothic trilogy only contains 24 songs, 8 songs each for Seventeen Seconds, Faith, and Pornography. I know Robert Smith considers it his worst album, he is wrong and I absolutely love this album for some reason. The fact that he did this without the help of Simon Gallup on bass and pretty much forced Lou Tolhurst to play the drums, he seriously didn't contribute that much to this album. Overall, I like it better than The Head on the Door and Kiss Me, Kiss Me, Kiss Me which those albums have the same ratings but this one is such an odd and fun album that I love.

BMDrummer
October 9th 2015


15136 Comments


gotta discog them at some point

IHateRadiohead
October 9th 2015


342 Comments


It's the month of spooks so it's a great time to discog them.

WilhelmBlack
October 9th 2015


603 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Listen to Lycia or Dead Can Dance if you want a spook although there is Pornography.



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