As bassist Michael Dempsey apparently didn't like Robert Smith's new lyrics or songs, Simon Gallup enters to play bass. There's also a keyboard player here, so The Cure become a proper four-piece of guitars/vocals, keyboards, bass, and drums.
Perversely, they sound much less like an actual band here than they did on their debut. For whilst they sound more focused and tight and have certainly got better, where are the live-sounding drums, where are the rock and roll guitars? Well, nowhere to be seen - Seventeen Seconds
has a drum pattern that remains the same throughout the album, with only subtle variations in speed, sometimes not even that! The bass also varies only enough to pick out different moods. Such factors make it an album quite hard to actually write about.
Robert Smith hadn't been too happy with Three Imaginary Boys
. So Seventeen Seconds
is deliberately more cohesive, to the extent that yeah, all the songs seem to sound more or less the same. Yet, there's different lyrics, different tempos, different guitar melodies, and different bass patterns, even though all the guitar parts use the same tone, and all the bass guitar parts use the same tone too. Ahem.
It's certainly an interesting album on a first or second listen, as the sounds all merge together song after song, yet only "A Forest" and "Play For Today" immediately jump out as proper melodic pop songs. As with all of Seventeen Seconds
, they're similar yet different, it's an album that in a way relies on its lyrics.
So Robert Smith attempts here to make an album that works entirely, without obvious highs or lows, with a set mood that's nevertheless varied, however it's let down by the lack of an overall concept or a particular reason to be. Still, it was a step forward for The Cure, a leap in sound they would subsequently come back to and expand upon.Rated:
by Reviewer: Adrian Denning
(blogging at Adrian's Album Reviews