I (Don’t) Hate That is a series where a Bearded Gentlemen Music writer presents one song to convince another writer to not hate a previously hated artist.


Kendon Luscher

I think I speak for a lot of people when I say fuck The Cure. It’s hard to pinpoint what is annoying about them. Or rather, it’s hard to pinpoint a single thing that’s annoying about them. My issue with this band is that I find them to be death by trillions of annoying paper cuts. One cut would go completely unnoticed. But this many cuts, and I’m bleeding out on the floor, whining like a character from one of The Cure’s terrible songs.

Obviously, Robert Smith’s voice is a starting point for my dislike of this music.

It’s like someone trying to do a punk effect while cry-masturbating after using a transmutation spell to turn himself into cat-person. That’s a very specific sound, and one I could ignore if every other part of their music didn’t work to accentuate this cat-person’s orgasmic punk meows.

As if to say, “Hell yeah, we love screeching!” the synths scratch out high-pitched fuckery that double down on the niche of people who like, for lack of better a term the very concept of “The Lovecats” embodied in a type of music. I think of this interplay between whiny synths and whiny vocals as a sort of cat orgy played out impressionistically through The Cure’s music.

 

And I would even be able to ignore these two things if the lyrics weren’t just as whiny as the vocals and the synthesizers. Even the songs that seem to be about something positive sulk in a complain-y shorthand that reduces all human emotion into a bratty malaise forming an infinite void of self-expression fixed on gradients of the same emotion. In Smith’s world, it seems, all feelings, good or bad, come down to goth-y semi-depression that never actually focuses on any strong emotion despite feeling this emotion strongly.

Yet, even this I could ignore. Even this wouldn’t be SO so bad.

Somehow, though, this band decided the dopest thing to add to like half their songs would be goosebump-inducing whispering and heavy breathing and just… sound effects? For some reason? The Cure honestly makes me wonder if they are trolling me here. Is this a joke designed specifically to annoy me?

No, I think it’s just that they’re not that good. Take notice of how every single song isn’t really all that long but feels really long because they all feature repetitious filler between verses and choruses and other verses — places where they could have immediately transitioned into the next segment of the song. Instead, they wig out a little bit on the synth, sometimes to the wail of rhythmic breathing, but sometimes to one of many spewing drones. Even a band specifically trying to annoy me wouldn’t write songs in this way.

So, uh, change my mind?


Aaron Cooper

I can’t change your mind on anything music related. Not only is art subjective, but changing one’s mind would mean some sort of manipulation would have to be involved. I think you know me well enough to know I’m not down with that. Music can have an effect on one person and be completely lost on the next. It doesn’t mean either of them are wrong or right. It’s just the matter-of-fact sensibility of personal taste.

I’m leading the debate with that sentiment because your opinions are spot on! How’s that for a plot twist?

That’s right, what you said about The Cure being whiney, drawn-out, and generally unpleasant is a pretty fair assessment. Don’t worry, I’m not going to give you the cheap rebuttal of “that’s why I like them!” you’d likely get from a Morrissey fan. But I AM going to apply it to something we both love: Radiohead.

Don’t get me wrong, The Cure and Radiohead sound nothing alike. But if you talk with someone who despises Radiohead, odds are they’ll tell you the band is whiny, dreary, pretentious and boring. If that’s what they get out of Radiohead’s music, can you really prove them wrong? I love Radiohead dearly but even I have a hard time explaining what they sound like to a person who has never bothered to listen. Radiohead is kind of all those things but not in a negative way.

Another similarity between Radiohead and The Cure is how they’re unfairly defined by their singles.

As much as it pains me to say it, “Creep” is Radiohead’s signature track. It’s still played on mainstream radio, playlists, and even kids on American Idol have covered that God-awful song. The same can be said about The Cure with “Friday I’m In Love” or “Close To Me”. I love The Cure but those songs suck just as hard as “Creep”.

With that said, it’s not easy to pick out just one song as a recommendation for you. The Cure truly is an album band. I would say just go listen to the entire Disintegration album from start to finish, minus “Lovesong” and call it a day. But that’s not how this series works. So I’m going to suggest the opening track of that album, “Plainsong”. (oh and you HAVE to listen with headphones)

 

“Plainsong” is made up almost entirely of atmosphere without being meandering.

There’s a shoegaze flavored wall of synth and guitar noise with barely audible vocals hidden behind delay and reverb. I know that sounds exactly what you hate about them but try to listen to it with Radiohead in mind. Think of it as “Burn The Witch” on A Moon Shaped Pool. Not the best song from Radiohead or the album itself, but it paints the perfect picture of what lies ahead.

“Burn The Witch” signified a return to form for Radiohead but it wasn’t fan-service. Like that track, there’s a certain sense of self-awareness that makes “Plainsong” so interesting to me. Even with lyrics about feeling pain and death, it’s not out-right depressing. If anything, the beautiful soundscapes and upbeat chord progression make the lyrics seem hopeful in some twisted way. Plus its really cool how it contradicts both sides of how most people see The Cure.

I doubt you’ll listen to “Plainsong” and suddenly love The Cure, but I have a feeling you’ll find it interesting enough to at least sample the rest of Disintegration.

Emo kids and Goths can be extremely annoying, but Robert Smith has a unique duality not often heard in singles. If you decide to check the rest of the album, you’ll find the standard songs about dying and sulking, but you’ll also unearth some strange, meta surreal-ness you probably weren’t expecting.


Kendon

You are right on every account of this song. It’s definitely more shoegaze than goth or emo, and on that front, I have a greater respect for The Cure in exact proportion to the variety you have rightly argued on their behalf. They are not a one trick mechanical pony that is programmed to only play annoying goth music. I was wrong to label them as such.

Unfortunately, while I can respect this shoegaze look more than I respect their goth look, shoegaze makes me physically ill.

Something about the haze in this style of music mimics the feeling of drinking until I puke. So while I definitely respect The Cure a whole lot more, I don’t like them a whole lot more. But at least I can recognize that the blame lies directly upon me and not the band. If it weren’t for my particular physical reaction to shoegaze, I think I’d really like this.

Consider this a win for you. On an intellectual level, you’ve changed my mind. It’s just that you won the heavyweight belt by points and not by a knockout. But a win is still a win.