Seventeen Seconds- The Cure

Release Year: 1980

Rating: 8/10

The Cure’s second album finds the band more focused and moving in a darker direction, which gained them the title of a gloomy band. While there are dark themes on this album, there is still a lot of uptempo tunes here, but there is still quite a bit of darkness on this record. With themes of loss, sadness and hopelessness, this is a Cure album worth taking the time to listen to.

The album opens with the mood setting instrumental “A Reflection.” It’s the same guitar riff repeated several times, but it works for setting the somber tone. Just by this one minute track, you can get a sense of despair and impending doom coming your way. It’s quite beautiful and haunting, though it can unnerve you. It sounds like something to listen to when walking through a cemetery on a grey day, which makes it odd how it transitions into the uptempo track “Play for Today.”

This is a catchy song with a melody that gets you jumping around. It was at this time the band decided to add keyboards to their repertoire and they come in clear on this track. The riff from this song is hard to forget and it’s often sung by Cure fans at their shows. The keyboard also helps the band achieve a bigger sound. No longer do they sound like three guys playing in their garage. There’s just something about how all the sounds on this song come together and makes the listener take notice.

The dark mood continues by how quiet some of the songs are. “Secrets” is a hushed track with a creeping bass line. At first it may be difficult to hear the lyrics since Robert almost whispers them, but when you look at them the song seems to be about the loss of love. It’s sort of a bittersweet song. Another song that’s quieter than the others is the dark track “Three.” What makes this song weird is that you can hear people talking, but can never make out what they say. Even when you search for lyrics there will be nothing but “Scream” found. Anyway, the song is interesting with what sounds like the band messing around in the studio during the intro. It then takes a dark turn as the band gets started. It has a very dooming, you’re gonna die quality to it. It makes you feel like you need to watch where you step.

The song that stands out on this record is “A Forest.” Everything just works on this song: great riffs, awesome lyrics and just a great sound overall. It has this great build up with the music starting out slow and quiet before it grows louder and the classic riff begins. This song makes the listener take notice with it’s big sound. It almost takes over the whole album. Something about how each instrument comes together to create this epic sound is amazing. The song itself is pretty creepy. It really gives you this feeling of isolation and loneliness, especially when Robert sings “Lost in a forest all alone/the girl was never there, it’s always the same.” It’s an amazing song and one of their best known to this day.

Though the album isn’t as dark as some of their later work, the band still plays around with dark subjects. A lot of the songs deal with feelings of isolation, loss and loneliness. One song even alludes to death. The track “In Your House” seems to tell the story of a person who wanders to their crush’s house at night and dies in their pool: “I drown at night in your house/pretending to swim.” I’m not sure if it’s suicide or an accident, but it’s pretty creepy either way. Some of the songs just feel cold with their instrumentation and lyrics, like the closing track “Seventeen Seconds.”

The album also shows how Robert comes into his own as a musician. On their previous album, he showed a lot of promise for being a great guitar player, but here he seems more comfortable with showing off his skills. Or he just got better. There are lots of songs with great riffs including, “M,” “Seventeen Seconds,” and “In Your House.” The guitar work at the end of “A Forest” is excellent. It’s not very complex, but it’s really impressive and makes you pay attention to the music. This album really shows the progress Robert has made not only as a song writer, but as a musician as well.

Overall, I give this album 8/10. It’s more focused and definitely better than their first. What is interesting about this album is it seems to be a precursor to the “poppier” stuff they would do later on. Yes, the lyrics are pretty dark, but the music itself is actually kind of upbeat when compared to what was to come on Faith. It’s a great album that shows The Cure moving in a darker direction. It has memorable songs and shows that this band wants you to pay attention to them.



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