In May, 1981, The Cure followed up their 2nd album Seventeen Seconds with the bleak post punk atmospheric album Faith.
Seventeen Seconds, Faith and Pornography form what is reflected on as the bands dark trilogy. Pick your own favourite from those three records, I’d go with Seventeen Seconds but it is quite a close call. The trilogy get darker get with each subsequent release. The era and tone set the blueprint for the goth movement that would emerge following this trilogy and influence countless other bands.
Whilst Seventeen Seconds is a set piece all formed around what is arguably the bands finest ever moment A Forest – Faith is much more of an equal affair.
The Holy Hour is both hollow and heartfelt. Moody lashes of soft instrumentation and cold yet affectionate vocals. The band, as a trio work very well to muster a non-more gloomy sound.
Primary and Faith lifts. Sounding akin to Jumping Somebody Else’s Train the album almost gets poppy. A song for slow motion pogoing – again with great lyrics and delivery.
Other Voices and the vibe goes bleak again. Bass and drums form a sound that soft effects are layered over. The chorus is both catchy and distant.
All Cats Are Grey sees a keyboard take centre stage in a beautifully sombre way. The instruments do not battle each other at all and form a stark sound that was quite unique at this time. It sounds simply great.
The Funeral Party again goes with keyboards offering a non-intrusive lead. Sounding like a John Carpenter soundtrack at 16 rpm the gloom washes with slower than slow pulses.
Doubt gives the album a wake-up call. Crashes and vicious, languid vocals from Robert Smith. The change in tempo still sits well on the album and it serves to twist Faith a touch harder.
The Drowning Man has a sombre hook that works like a distant, less direct, Joy Division circa Closer era. Reluctant yet confident vocals and again that oh so gloomy cinematic soundscape.
Faith closes the album of the same name with a drawn out downward gaze. The sound that encapsulates how isolated teenagers feel still hit a note with me now all these years later.
Faith is in my opinion the weakest of the ‘trilogy’ – but ‘weak’ is the wrong word for what is still amongst the best albums The Cure would ever make. The Cure, with hindsight moved fast both in terms of releasing albums (initially) and their willingness to change. In the 80’s there were few other bands that ones faith was better invested in…