Label – Fiction
Producers – Mike Hedges, Robert Smith
Detached: A word that epitomizes “Seventeen Seconds” position amongst the cumulated back catalogue of Robert Smith’s Cure.
Detached: The abstract blurry images of the cover further drove the band away from traditional Rock iconography and indeed, enhanced The Cure’s “anti-image”.
Detached: “Seventeen Seconds” is the first point where Smith wrestles free of any hint of the producer’s control that had laced their debut, stating that “We’ve never been part of any movement, and we’ll never follow fashion”.
Detached: Numerous critics incorrectly cite this album as the first in a trilogy of “Gothic” recordings that continued with 1981’s dour “Faith” and climaxed with the gruesomely dark “Pornography” from 1982. Although much of the content of “Seventeen Seconds” is sparse, atmospheric and inherently cold, there’s none of the liberally laden lip gloss of gloom that fills the follow up albums.
Detached: During the recording process Keyboardist Matthieu Hartley would suggest the implementation a more flourishing backdrop to Lol Tolhurst and Simon Gallup’s minimalist rhythms. Smith rejected this suggestion in favour of single piano notation to add stark atmospherics to his echo laden deadpan vocal track and heavily phased guitar sound.
Detached: Unlike the follow up albums, there is undoubtedly a subtle stream of pop sensibility running through much of “Seventeen Seconds”, with melodies often originated from Gallup’s Bass. Their flirt with U.K. single success on “A Forest” perfectly builds layers on the leading bass lick, with Smith’s gentle guitar strumming, and Tolhurst’s machine like beat adding a beguiling soundscape that leans heavily towards previous works. Other highlights include the deeply cinematic instrumental opener “A Reflection”, the more upbeat “Play For Today”, and further icy introspection from “M”, “In Your House” and “At Night”.
Detached: “Seventeen Seconds” is Robert Smith’s greatest performance, a contemplation piece that perfectly accompanies solitude. Orthodox descriptions can’t hope to capture the chilling beauty of this record.
A1 A Reflection 2:08
A2 Play for Today 3:41
A3 Secrets 3:20
A4 In Your House 4:07
A5 Three 2:34
B1 The Final Sound 0:52
B2 A Forest 5:55
B3 M 3:03
B4 At Night 5:54
B5 Seventeen Seconds 3:59