Sound — 9
This is often regarded as The Cure's masterpiece and I can understand why. I am a recent fan of The Cure so am not in a position to rank this as better than, or the best of theirs or whatever. What I can say is that after owning this for 6 months I cannot stop playing it. It covers many moods - not just gloomy - and is a real soundscape combining typical R Smith guitar hooks, poignant lyrics, teenboy type singing, and composition with layered synths, driving bass and sparse but cutting drums. Most of the album has heavy and full sound, with catchy hooks layered over Cure type simple chord progressions and structures. I am really impressed how they can make simple sound so good. On a good setup the sound quality is fantastic.
Lyrics — 10
Smith covers everything on this album from doom to gloom. Sorry not quite true! It is not an "up" album by any stretch, take "Pictures of You" and "Lovesong" as pretty up, pretty lovey, but with a typical Smith twist. Who really hasn't thought to themselves at least one time "there is nothing in the world that I ever wanted more/than to feel you deep in my heart"? Delivered in typical angst/emotive voice. Great vocals throughout, especially "Pictures," "Fascination St" and "Disintegration." I saw a Smith interview once where he said every song is about (wife) Mary. Slightly tongue in cheek but points out that it's all about the relationships, the emotions and the separations for him.
Overall Impression — 10
There are 12 tracks, 9 I would rate as excellent - "Plainsong" (prepare your eardrums for the opening bars - amazing!), "Pictures," "Lovesong," "Lullaby," "Fascination St," "Same Deep Water as You" (despair!), "Disintegration" (try this one when you are right up against it), "Homesick," "Untitled" - 5 of these outstanding. "Sidebar" - I am really enjoying playing bass and jamming along on the 6's with this album. Bonus. This is now in the top 3 of my favorite albums of all time. I like all genres with good composition and performance from classical to country and all in between, so this ranking is outstanding. Highly recommended for fans and newbies, and great for a 72 minute driving accompaniment.