Japanese Whispers by The Cure

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Japanese Whispers by The Cure
Japanese Whispers by The Cure

Album Released: 1983

Japanese Whispers ::: Artwork

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1.Let's Go To Bed3:34
2.The Dream3:12
3.Just One Kiss4:09
4.The Upstairs Room3:30
5.The Walk3:30
6.Speak My Language2:40
8.The Lovecats3:40


Releasing singles as un-Cure-like as possible resulted in lots of people who had never heard of The Cure suddenly loving them! Not that Japanese Whispers, a compilation of various Cure singles, is a particularly good document, but it did serve a purpose. Some background first ...

Simon Gallup had left the group, and Robert Smith spent time working with Siouxsie and The Banshees - "Let's Go To Bed" was released as an exercise in sounding different. It worked, scratching away at the singles charts, as did "The Walk" as well. "The Lovecats" then stormed the charts, Top 10 in the UK, and Robert Smith suddenly had a lot of things to think about.

Well, the existing fan-base was split of course, cries of 'sell-out' usually do accompany such things, but that's now all ancient history. So The Cure were revealed to be more than a one-trick pony, something long-term followers of the band already knew anyway.

As slices of early-80's dance-influenced pop, "The Walk" and "Let's Go To Bed" are pretty spiffing fun, and they have TUNES! Speaking of tunes, the stand-up bass of "The Lovecats" perfectly matches the image of a cat walking up and down, all slinky - Smith thought of it as a 'novelty', and indeed it is, but whilst the fact that it became so huge may have embarrassed him, perhaps he cracked a wry smile when he picked up the royalty cheque.

The other songs here are a mixed bag, a few hark back to the group's more doomy style, albeit with a shinier production. All in all, although Japanese Whispers is the least remarkable of the band's releases, and the most throwaway, it's decent enough. It saw The Cure in a state of transition, from which they'd ultimately emerge all the stronger.

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by Reviewer: Adrian Denning (blogging at Adrian's Album Reviews)

Just when The Cure were turning into the ultimate wrist-slitting Goth band, they release ... this? This is frigging synth-happy 1980's dance music! Yuck!

Granted, Japanese Whispers is a compilation of singles, rather than an actual 'album' - it's quite apparent Robert Smith was trying to score big in the commercial market with dance tunes. But these are 1984 dance tunes, with syncopated drum and bass rhythms, buzzy ping-pingy synths, and drum machines that go 'plop, PISSHH, ploppa, PISSHH', kinda like on Queen's Hot Space, but sounding even more dated. From the very first seconds of most of these tracks, you'll remember the days of your youth in the eighties in the most hilarious way possible.

Still, most of this stuff is quite good! There isn't any really bad songs here, and even the datedness doesn't really make the music stink. Of course, you might just hate this kind of music, or your Gothicness might be deeply offended by the sight of this record, in which case I can't help. But it is good - not sensational, but good.

That's because Robert Smith and his pals didn't just set the synths and drum-machines on auto-pilot and improvised some playing over the results - they clearly wrote this stuff. As such, "Let's Go To Bed" for example has a cool syncopated bassline and a sticky little synth riff, and "The Dream" is a festival of untrivial opposing rhythms battling constantly, peppered with a bendy / buzzy synth riff, the classic 'ping ping' synth sound, along with some dorky 'woo woo' chords.

I guess the worst track, or - more properly - my least favourite, is "The Walk", because it's dated really badly. The buzzy riff sounds totally ridiculous nowadays, and it's just not a very catchy song anyway.

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by Reviewer: Fernando Canto (blogging at Sir Mustapha's Album Reviews [Defunct])

Robert Smith fires the Pornography band and decides to become a light, dancey popstar with some store-bought accessible pop hooks and a brand new band of flunkies at his side to help grease the rails.

Japanese Whispers is actually a compilation, consisting of an EP called The Wind, and a couple of singles from the post-Porno period, but it sounds aeons removed from that ode to blood and chocolate.

Anyone who became a dyed-in-black-lace Cure fan with Pornography was no doubt thrown clear off the cliff upon hearing these tracks. There's dance beats, very clearly a 1984 MTV syndrum 'ripped sweatshirt off the shoulder, with headband and Reebok aerobic shoes' kind of dayglo accessible romp that gave plenty of British musicians bad names back in the early- to mid-80's.

Gone then are most of the ragged guitars, and with them much of the really scary atmospherics, leaving the band to embrace its rather wimpy synth textures and sounding quite a bit like contemporaries Depeche Mode ... futuristic maybe, but cobbled together, and about as danceable as rocks in a blender.

A few tracks slip from under the electronic knife unscathed - "Just One Kiss" and "Lament" for instance - but they end up sounding like weak Porno rejects. I guess this time round the half-assed attempts at electronica beat out the half-assed attempts at Goth, but not by a whole lot, and I wouldn't go so far as to say I like Smith's intentions here. Possibly the man felt that uber-emotional dirge music was a dead end, but that doesn't mean he has to start sounding like Frankie Goes to Hollywood.

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by Reviewer: Capt Bonanza (blogging at Capn Marvel's Bonanza [Defunct])

After Pornography, The Cure line-up was reduced to to two - mainstay Lol Tolhurst, and frontman Robert Smith of course.

Perhaps in the midst of watching his band fall apart, Smith took it upon himself to lighten up, as Japanese Whispers almost feels like a statement of style, one that says 'I'm a weirdo who likes to dance!'.

Although it does have quite a pop feel to it, this is a fun and stimulating album that contains some of Smith's best songs. And even though it's essentially just a compilation of singles released between 1982-1983 (along with their B-sides), the tracks flow together well, the best being "The Lovecats", with its super-catchy hook and cool retro feel.

Catchy, fun, and totally eccentric, Japanese Whispers is one of Smith's finest achievements, a journey into synth/pop land.

by Reviewer: Austin