Boys Don't Cry

Boston Globe
May 1, 1980
Jeff McLaughlin
reproduced without permission

The 13 songs on this powerful American debut album are three-minute new wave tone poems. (The album is compiled from their UK release on the Fiction label, "Three Imaginary Boys," and from singles.) The Cure makes subtle but compelling rock music that is rooted in a bleak British vision of personal relationships in the 1980s. Lol Tolhurst's strong but spare drumming provides the power for the trio, pumping a lean mix that never misses a beat. Michael Dempsey on bass is accomplished, inventive and melodic throughout, and in several places, particularly on "Fire in Cairo," the word masterful is not inappropriate. Robert Smith plays guitar, handles almost all the vocals and writes the group's material. He is perhaps the most intriguing musician in the bunch. His guitar rarely leads, indeed on "Accuracy" he seems merely to be offering commentary behind Dempsey's thematic statements, but when Smith does come to the forefront, as on "10:15 Saturday Night," he shows his reticence is deliberate, not dictated by any lack of ability.

Smith's lyrics are simple, but not simplistic, and his voice has fashionable intensity without sounding forced. The melodies are not arresting on first listen, rather they insinuate themselves. The two songs getting airplay, "Jumping Someone Else's Train" and "Boys Don't Cry," were well chosen - they are as catchy as The Cure gets here - but they are by no means the only reason to listen to this album. In fact, commercial considerations aside, they are not even the best cuts on the LP. "Subway Song," which closes Side One and is a musical tour de force, gets my vote. I won't spoil it for you by explaining why.

Last Revised: Monday, 15-May-2006 14:59:50 CDT

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