Wednesday, July 12, 2006

"Disintegration": Absolute Misery Personified

What's the most appropriate album to seek comfort in when you're down in the absolute pits, after having your red, beating heart ripped out in a gory welter of torn blood vessels and twisted pulmonary valves and trampled underfoot with steel-toed boots into a runny, unidentifiable mess and left to wither away?

If you say "Disintegration" by The Cure, give yourself a pat on the back, and then get completely pissed and wasted, and sink even lower into the depths of despair.

When Robert Smith produced "Disintegration" in 1989, it was immediately, unconditionally hailed as the epitome of The Cure's career. This is the sort of album that not only defines the critics'-favourite phrase "sonic cathedral", but also captures the ominous spirit of that particular combination of romantic disillusionment and unrequited love that comes to roost in everyone's life once in a while.

While it's too distressing and heart-wrenching to go through each of the tracks one by one, there are a few examples of how close the album's overall doom-laden atmosphere can hit close to home (and hard at that). "Pictures of You" is a bleak, icy study in slow-motion heartbreak that speaks to the masses of rejected lovers that dwell throughout the annals of human history. "Prayers for Rain" is a slow, desolate Gothic crawl through a dingy twilight garden, in desperate search of a departed love that never was in the first place.

However, the most devastating song has to be the title track, which runs for a brutal, merciless eight minutes and twenty seconds, tearfully and angrily howling its account of romantic neurosis, emotional grief and detachment, and viciously deconstructing the myth of happy endings, and eventually collapsing upon itself in utter resignation and anguish, concluding with the final sound of a glass being smashed to smithereens against the wall.

Enough said.


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