The Cure are a band who, for a long part of their career, defied categorisation. They flirted between their post-punk roots and a new faction of gith rock that seemed to swirl around them, choking and cloying as cheap hairspray. Soon enough, the band found their own niche and welcomed the label upon which was firmly printed “The Cure”. The band, led by Robert Smith, have remained wholly unique ever since. But, that doesn’t mean that they weren’t welcomed into the mainstream of music, if only for a short while. One album that confirmed their place at the table of pop music was Kiss Me, Kiss Me, Kiss Me.
When 1987 rolled around, The Cure had not only been post-punk pioneers but had also branded themselves with their own specially crafted goth iron. They returned to jangle-pop, shoegaze spangly joy on their 1987 record, and it became the first album to break the top 40 in the US. Recorded amid the growing tensions between Smith and Lol Tolhurst, there’s a confidence to this album that makes it better than most of their catalogue and saw the world finally take notice of the band in a more formal sense than ever before.
Now, there’s a good shout that it was, in fact, the album before this one, Head on the Door, which saw The Cure become the indie darlings they were so clearly destined to be. But while that album hit the UK and US Gold, outselling their previous effort The Top by a long way, Kiss Me, Kiss Me, Kiss Me went one further and gathered up the group’s first platinum-selling record, reaching number six on the UK charts and 35 in America. Across the board, The Cure had seemingly cracked their markets and set the foundations for 1989’s seminal LP Disintegration to go one step further still.
Purists will likely see the album as a slightly more plateable piece of The Cure’s iconography. They’d be right. The album certainly changes the doom and gloom of their previous albums and see the band establish themselves as vital pieces of the pop puzzle. The real question is, what’s wrong with that? The beguiling nature of the record means that it has had us entranced ever since the needle first dropped all those years ago.
Whether it was the burning brass of ‘Why Can’t I Be You’, the gentle delicacy of ‘Catch’, the jam-packed jaunt of ‘Hot Hot Hot!!!’, or the piano-driven beauty of ‘Just Like Heaven’, the LP cracked the lucrative American market and announced The Cure as a serious contender for the decade’s ultimate musical icons. The latter song certainly helped push the album up the charts and saw Robert Smith pen a love song for his enduring partner, Mary.
It works as an introduction to the entire record. Far removed from the moodiness of their previous efforts, the LP is brimming with potent positivity as well as the classic Cure cocktail of sweet than honey delivery wrapping a decidedly dark nugget. It’s a point that shows while The Cure were making their way into the mainstream, wading through the garbage that littered it, they also did everything their own way and in their own style.
It is a facet of the Crawley’s band unique position within the music industry that has seen them remain so vital. Not concerned with making anyone happy, they insist upon pushing their artistic integrity to the fore whenever possible. It is why we’re still happily waiting for the new album, and it all began with the pop masterpiece Kiss Me, Kiss Me, Kiss Me.