Sound — 7
The album itself is a very 80s art/gothic-rock-esque album. The album is very heavy (as a whole) on echo and tends to be more high end oriented in the guitars and drums; however, Simon Gallups basslines are low mid oriented due to his pickstyle technique and bass choice. In all, very cohesive on sound, which can be tiring, but there are moments they break free of the heavily processed sound on the whole two, such as the relatively dry "Lullaby" and "Untitled". Robert Smiths vocals seem relatively low for a rock album, blending in more as another instrument rather than just a topping like many rock albums (Def Leppards Hysteria, anyone).
Lyrics — 8
The lyrical content is quite dense in some areas ("Same Deep Water As You", "Disintegration") when it's appropriate, while in others ("Lovesong", "Pictures of You") it's still artful and such, but takes on a "lighter" tone (if there is such a thing on this album). The music doesn't overpower the lyrics and, in fact, seems to compliment them quite well. As for Robert Smiths skill as a singer, he works well with the band. He might not work as well in other contexts (even though the duo era of the Cure was a more electronic style), but on this album I think he was at a high point. His vocal inflection is subtle enough so that you have to really listen for it, but it really adds to the song. They add more complexity and dimension to the album as a whole. Examples: "I've been looking so long at these pictures of you/That I almost believe that they're real/I've been living so long with my pictures of you/That I almost believe that the pictures/Are all I can feel," Pictures of you. "Whenever I'm alone with you/You make me feel like I am young again/Whenever I'm alone with you/You make me feel like I am fun again," Lovesong.
Overall Impression — 10
This is amongst my top ten albums (others include "Master of Puppets", "Jaco Patrious", "The Inner Mounting Flame", and "Stadium Arcadium"). It compares to all of these as a work of art, and although not perfect, I don't believe there is a "perfect" album. The sound may initially put off a few listeners, but it's an acquired taste that I have grown to love for it's flaws. The human element of the music is substantial in regards to the overall work. The only real problem I have with this album is a fairly minor one. Some of the songs don't really seem fully developed lyrically or emotionally through the music itself (mainly just "Lovesong" and "Last Dance"). Otherwise, the album (synergistically) is quite well planned and very carefully made. As I said before, a personal favorite, which I luckily have stored on both my computers amd a backup external hard disk, so while it might get stolen, I wouldn't have to buy it again (except maybe for the cover art).