Ah, the glory days of vinyl. Back in that dusty, scratchy era the simplest things carried so much weight. What if you didn’t have any credits on the record sleeve? Ooooh! What if you issued the album on blood red vinyl? Aaaah! And what if you dared to make the ultimate musical statement and release a whole heap of material as a double album set? Yipes! While some acts utilized the double album format to make preposterous albums even more bloated (see Yes), others knew how to give such a project maximum impact and showcase as many aspects of their music as possible. That’s exactly what the Cure did back in 1987, just as the CD was making its “70 minutes of music” potential felt, with the cheekily titled Kiss Me Kiss Me Kiss Me.
Having established themselves internationally as a multifaceted alt-rock band over the course of six records, the band crafted an album that successfully represented all the sides of the Cure, with great songs to boot. Roaring out of the gate with the potent snarl of “The Kiss,” head honcho Robert Smith and crew (including, at that point, long-time members Simon Gallup, Porl Thompson, Laurence “Lol” Tolhurst and relative newcomer Boris Williams) display their penchant for pop perversity from the get-go, with the next tune, “Catch,” being a prime example of the melancholic pop that Smith seems to be able to write in his (surely troubled) sleep.
And just as the length of the album (17 tracks) is gargantuan, so is the scope of ambition in the arrangements: Smith trots out horns for the psycho-soul of “Hot Hot Hot” and the “Love Cats”-styled “Why Can’t I Be You?” (with the horns actually coming from Tolhurst’s synth banks), while tracks like “Flight” are pummeling sonic assaults. The band is at the top of its game (particularly drummer Williams, whose innovative and invigorating fills are sorely missed by the band’s current incarnation) on the simply stellar “Just Like Heaven.” Glistening descending guitar lines, Gallup’s throbbing bass line, and Williams’s authoritative thumping frame a typically lovelorn Smith lyric, with the end result being one of the Cure’s finest singles, and perhaps one of the best pop singles of the late ‘80s.
There are, of course, forgettable moments on Kiss Me (“Hey You!” being the cream of the crap), but such is to be expected from a four-sided beast—White Album, anyone? Indeed, just as the Fab Four chose to juxtapose such sublime Beatle moments as “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” and “Cry Baby Cry” with “Happiness Is A Warm Gun” or (shiver) “Revolution No. 9,” with Kiss Me the Cure gives the listener the kind of roller-coaster rush that only great pop can provide—they take you all the way through the amusement park, plying you with the sweetest cotton candy, until you wind up giddy and disoriented in the hall of mirrors.