The year was 1985, and the alternative scene was turning into a movement; thanks in part to the growing empire of college radio networks providing a launchpad for all the weird and wonderful bands that weren’t clear cut enough for the mainstream airwaves. With fateful timing, this was also the year that The Cure’s Robert Smith learnt to channel his signature angst, that had previously been expressed in lush instrumentation that bordered on excess, into tight, catchy Goth-pop songs that were like candy for the disaffected.
It was a skill Smith had previously harnessed in standalone singles like 1983 pop-pillars “Lovecats” and “Let’s Go To Bed,” but wouldn’t translate to album format until 1985’s commercial crossover, The Head On the Door. It was the Cure’s sixth studio album and marked the return of their longstanding bassist, Simon Gallup who had been on hiatus since 1982 (and remains in the band still), having previously played on 1980’s Seventeen Seconds, 1981’s Faith and 1982’s Pornography; and the debut of drummer, Boris Williams. It was also the first album made up of songs composed entirely by frontman Robert Smith. All these elements came together in right measure to give them the most successful and accessible release of their career – eclectic, moody and catchy as hell.
Celebrating 35 years since The Head On the Door landed the Cure in the international charts, here are some highlights from the landmark crossover LP.
The Cure | “In Between Days”
“In Between Days” gave mainstream audiences around the world their first taste of Smith’s syrupy gloom-pop. The first single released from the album is poppy and upbeat and completely at odds with its own despairing lyrics. The juxtaposition proved addictive as the single was their first Top 100 in the US and cracked the Top 20 in the U.K, Australia and New Zealand.
The Cure | “A Night Like This”
A highlight for the melancholy saxophone solo by Fools Dance – a short-lived side project spearheaded by Simon Gallup – member, Ron Howe. Nothing says 80s hit like an epic sax solo!
The Cure | “Close To Me”
The decidedly disco, sweet and salty, “Close To Me” was the second and final single released from the album, and it’s in the chorus lyrics we find the album’s namesake. And yes, according to Robert Smith, he was as uncomfortable as he looks in the song’s official music video, once describing the experience as “the most uncomfortable 12 hours that I've ever spent… Watching it you'd think is was fun, but all I could think about was dying a slow, painful death.”
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