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Digital Subscriptions > Long Live Vinyl > Jun 2019 - The Stone Roses > The Cure DISINTEGRATION


On their eighth album, The Cure turned their backs on the skewed brand of pop that had yielded a succession of hits, and opted instead for doom-laden introspection. Against all expectations, as Neil Crossley explains, it was the album that would become their crowning achievement

Classic Album

Robert Smith was the poster boy for the post-punk gloom-rock generation

In the ego-strewn music industry, it’s often assumed that anyone who sets foot on a stage wants to be as successful as possible. This is not always the case. Creative motivation does not necessarily equate to commercial desire, a fact borne out amply by The Cure.

In August 1989, the band arrived in New York to begin the US leg of their The Prayer tour, to promote eighth album Disintegration. The first concert was at New Jersey’s Giants Stadium, with 44,000 people turning out to watch them headline a bill that included the Pixies. Many bands would have been overjoyed by such a response. But The Cure, who had crossed the Atlantic by ship due to frontman Robert Smith’s and bassist Simon Gallup’s profound fear of flying, were mortified. “It was never our intention to become as big as this,” declared Smith. “Despite my best efforts, [we had] actually become everything that I didn’t want us to become: a stadium rock band.”

Smith’s bewilderment was heightened by the knowledge that, after six years of releasing giddy, oddball pop hits, he had written Disintegration, a deeply personal album of near-relentless gloom. The very last outcome he’d envisaged was a surge in sales. As one NME journalist put it at the time: “How can a group this disturbing and depressing be so popular?”

Disintegration would go on to become The Cure’s finest work, created by a band at the peak of their powers. Smith’s dark ruminations of lost love and despair would transform the band from cult status to mainstream adulation, with posters of them adorning the walls of teenagers’ bedrooms across Middle America. The album was the creative zenith of The Cure’s work. Thirty years on from its release, Disintegration remains their enduring masterpiece.


The Cure were always the unlikeliest of pop stars, goth-rock royalty effortlessly straddling a hip, intelligent post-punk aesthetic with kooky pop sensibilities. Over the course of one of the industry’s longest and most bizarre careers, the band endured numerous line-up changes, acrimonious feuds and alcoholism. But they have remained revered and respected in equal measure.

“I think you’d be hard-pressed to find many artists who don’t like The Cure,” Robert Smith told Dorian Lynskey of The Guardian in June 2018. “I think people admire us, even if they don’t particularly get the music… We’ve stayed true to ourselves. If you’re in a band, you realise how hard that is. I think people admire our tenacity.”

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About Long Live Vinyl

In our cover story, we look back at The Stones Roses' classic 1989 debut album 30 years on from its release. Producer John Leckie takes us inside the making of the record and Peter Hook reveals how he would have made it sound even better. We also count down the 60 greatest debut albums of all time, from Are You Experienced to Unknown Pleasures. Elsewhere, the irrepressible Bobby Gillespie guides us through Primal Scream’s new best-of collection, Maximum Rock ‘N’ Roll, Kevin Morby explains why a concept album about religion might be the best record he’s ever made, and we meet the outrageously talented Aldous Harding to hear about joyful new LP Designer. We also profile the legendary Stiff Records and take an in-depth look at The Cure’s Disintegration – which turns 30 this year as the band prepare to headline Glastonbury. Legendary photographer Norman Seeff recalls shooting Blondie, Fleetwood Mac and The Rolling Stones, and if that's not enough we bring you the widest range of new album, reissue, turntable and accessory reviews anywhere on the newsstand. Long Live Vinyl is THE magazine for vinyl lovers.