Originally released in 1989, Disintegration is not just one of the Cure’s masterpieces — it’s also their commercial peak.
Beginning where the dream-pop quotient of the 1987 hodge-podge Kiss Me, Kiss Me, Kiss Me left off, its 12 tracks create a cohesive whole with their extended instrumental intros, steady grooves, and masterful “integration” of appearing/disappearing synth and guitar melodies. Since many of the songs were written with film scoring in mind, it’s no accident that they were allowed to expand. The real magic is in Robert Smith’s ability to focus on the simplest of images — momentary smiles or a friend standing in the rain — and suspend them in midair for what seems like the length of a dream.
As the second disc of rare and unreleased instrumental demos shows, the music was fully written first. Demos like “Pictures of You,” with its gritty fidelity and hip-hop drum machines, sound perfectly in place today. A third disc presents live versions of the full sequenced album taken from July 1989 Wembley Arena shows (some of the material previously released on 1991’s Entreat). The excited screams of fans who knew every song from its opening bars make for the perfect first big summer concert of 2010.