The Cure – Japanese Whispers (1983): Review

japanese

Produced by Chris Parry, Steve Nye, Robert Smith, Phil Thornalley
Label – Fiction

In hindsight, the release of “Japanese Whispers” feels like nothing other than a record company holding operation whilst leader Robert Smith pulled himself together following 18 months of non-commitment for the band that had psychologically torn him apart. 1982’s “Pornography” had been a mentally exhausting creation with a drug infused and deeply depressed Smith questioning his mortality and breaking a relationship with bass player Simon Gallup during the fraught supporting tour. At the end of the year he’d confessed to Melody Maker magazine that he couldn’t see any further Cure material for the foreseeable future and to further distance himself from the band joined Siouxsie & The Banshees as a full time member. For Fiction Records boss Chris Parry the one redeeming hope of a future for his biggest band lay in the fact that Smith continued to produce sporadic singles throughout the period and it’s the compilation of these that form this eight song collection.

cure

Most noticeably the emphasis for these releases is to purge any sense of the cloying doom that came with “Pornography”. “Let’s Go To Bed” is an enjoyable slice of chart bound synth pop. The less effective dance oriented “The Walk” follows a weary trek down paths that had been better served by Soft Cell and other similar bands of the time. The most bizarre departure is the top ten hit “The Lovecats” with its jazzy tin pan alley styled musical backdrop and Smith’s barmy feline vocalisations. It would be almost annoying in its dumb, meaningless frivolity were it not for the melodic catnip of the melody (particularly the “barda bap bap bap” refrain). The remaining songs vary in quality but remain undeniably B sides. If compilation albums are a way of introducing a band then 1986s “Staring At The Sea” is a far more satisfying collection and represents the best of The Cure from their first recordings in 1979.

Robert Smith would return from the shadows less than 6 months later with the unconvincing “The Top”. His persona would change forever having stolen Siouxsie’s lip stick and re-inventing himself as a cartoon goth. “Japanese Whispers” brings to a close the sparse, icy isolationistic post punk of previous recordings as he embarked on a career of odd pop and worldwide success. “Japanese Whispers” is important in that it brings an abrupt close to the first phase The Cure’s development. However its musical relevance in comparison to other recordings is negligible.

6/10

Track Rating
1 – Let’s Go To Bed 8
2 – The Dream 5
3 – Just One Kiss 6
4 – The Upstairs Room 7
5 – The Walk 6
6 – Speak My Language 6
7 – Lament 7
8 – The Lovecats 7

Let’s Go To Bed

The Walk

The Lovecats

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