Sound — 7
The Top is roundly accused as being the worst Cure album, and I tend to agree. Not because of a lack of quality, but the competition it faces. It is a strange hallucogenic mix, with the slow march of The Empty World, to the near-metal of Shake Dog Shake and Give Me It, and the insanity of Bananafishbones. Flutes are heard on Dressing Up, the sound of Robert flicking a spinning top opens and closes the last track, The Top, and the instrumentation gets stranger as you delve into the sound. The album was written and recorded during Smiths collaborations with Siouxsie and the Banshees, and it is clear that the recording was altered by a large amount of illicit substances and alcohol. Andy Anderson drums on this record and fills the shoes of Tolhurst well, who is quoted as playing various instruments. I didnt hear anyone throwing up on the record, so I have reason to doubt he contibuted much. One of the strangest sounds you can hear on a record, bouncing between metal, goth, pop and somethings you cant put names to. Not consistent enough. Psychadelia is not my thing.
Lyrics — 7
Roberts singing style is different here. He seems to change constantly. On Piggy In The Mirror, it sounds as though he is singing from the back of his throat upside down. His lyrics could be interpreted as insane or insightful. Wailing Wall is Smith placing himself inside the head of a Jew walking to the holy land. Very different. Bananafishbones is the first cure song to discuss suicide "Put a piece of metal in your head you said make you dead." Birdmad Girl is an identity crisis, wishing to become a polar bear. How that is written not under an influence, please help me. The Top is one of his weakest moments, not in the song, but in his psyche, changing from pleading "please come back like all the others do" to "please come back all of you". Genius. But unfortuantely there are not many great moments. Give Me It is unbeleivably violent "Slice the cats like cheese and eat the sweet sticky things." It is hard to take that seriously and not feel disgusted/disgusting.
Overall Impression — 8
The Top is a strange experience. From waking up in blood in Shake Dog Shake to walking the gorgeous blocks on The Top where nobody goes, Smith has created a small world full of polar bears and birdmad girls. Goth? Ha. This is Smith letting go. This is an album for completists, not near the simple beauty of Faith, the punk of Three Imaginary Boys or the majesty of Disintegration. The Top is the ugly duckling of The Cure's back catalogue.