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Across gothic subcultures, post-punk scenes, and 1980s music enthusiasts, The Cure are the band. Led by eyeliner enthusiast and yearning vocalist Robert Smith, they fused jangly guitars with dark pop soundscapes and storytelling full of mystery. It’s been over 40 years since The Cure’s inception, but they remain one of the most well-loved groups in British history and a reference point for budding guitarists everywhere.
While they were gradually amassing this acclaim and admiration, Smith struggled to balance his work with The Cure alongside playing for Siouxsie and the Banshees and the Glove. After faltering with The Top in 1984, he found a renewed love for his own gothic post-punk project the following year with The Head on the Door – the album that made him realise that The Cure was the band.
Released in 1985, The Head on the Door perfected The Cure’s blending of pop and dark post-punk, spawning enduring hits like ‘Close to Me’, ‘In Between Days’ and ‘Six Different Ways’. It garnered commercial and critical success, a reaction Smith seemed to have predicted from the early demo stage of producing the album.
“During the demos of The Head on the Door,” he told Rolling Stone, “I knew that this was the band.” According to Smith, this realisation came as a result of both the music and the behind-the-scenes relationships developing: “The album’s got a real fantastic freshness to it, and it was a really pleasant environment.”
“All the girlfriends got on well, and the band became much more like a family,” he explained, “That old gang mentality was growing a little bit stale. By this time, I was 25 and realised I should grow up a bit.”
Smith bought “a good metal six-string acoustic” and immediately started penning lead single ‘In Between Days’, while the addition of drummer Boris Williams expanded the percussive potential of the record. “We could never have attempted ‘Six Different Ways’ before, because we never had a drummer who could play 6/8 time,” Smith recalled, “It was a great feeling to be in a band that played well. I thought, ‘God, we could jam – should we so desire.’”
The resulting record remains one of their most successful and beloved, the start of a new life for the band. In the years that followed, the band would pen further hits like ‘Just Like Heaven’ and ‘Lovesong’, continually proving their post-punk prowess and rightful position in the history of music. With both universal appeal and a permanent place in alternative scenes, even outside of the frontman’s opinion, The Cure really are the band.
Revisit The Head on the Door, the album that made Robert Smith realise The Cure was “the band” below.