Although Disintegration is, and always will be, regarded as The Cure’s magnum opus, their second album is just as worthy of praise. Following on from 1979’s more experimental Three Imaginary Boys, this project was the post-punk titans’ first real steps into the gloomy gothic rock that they became so well known for.
Seventeen Seconds may not be full of globally recognisable hits (the exception, of course, being ‘A Forest’), but when listened to in one go it’s an experience every bit as moving as their more popular records. Opening track ‘A Reflection’ and later ‘The Final Sound’ are beautifully haunting instrumentals which paved the way for the long-stretching intros that would define their future tracks. ‘Play For Today’ still makes a frequent appearance in their setlists, proving once and for all that this early effort still stands the test of time.
Of course, the sole and monumental single ‘A Forest’ is overshadowed only by its live version. The constant bassline drives forward Robert Smith’s poignant vocals and establishes a sense of darkness that remains a relentless thread passing through the whole album. On stage, the song takes on a life of its own, bass taking the centre stage and destroying everything in its path. Not just the hit of the album, but a stand-out track in a 40-year discography.
The album is best listened to in one gloomy sitting, where all of its discordance fits together in a beautiful way to create a priceless first step for the band’s first steps into the dark core of 80s post-punk. But Seventeen Seconds is in no way stuck in the past; Robert Smith’s lyrics hit just as hard today, making this album undoubtedly one of their best.
Play For Today
In Your House
The Final Sound
Seventeen Seconds is available via Fiction Records Ltd.