In their on-going re-release of The Cure/Robert Smith’s oeuvre in remastered and expanded editions, Rhino presents Kiss Me Kiss Me Kiss Me, the band’s seventh studio album. The Cure’s popularity gradually increased with each release, and this album was no exception. Coming a year after their singles collection, Staring at the Sea, 1987’s Kiss Me Kiss Me Kiss Me saw the band expand its musical palette and it contained what is arguably the band’s greatest hit, “Just Like Heaven,” their first to break the Top 40. The album came in at #6 on the UK charts and #35 in the US.
Rather than following the formula that made their previous studio album, The Head on the Door, a success, Smith decided to loosen up the reins of control and get the rest of the band “more involved in the creative process.” The ever-changing line-up of the band at this stage was Simon Gallup on bass, Boris Williams on percussion, Porl Thompson on guitar, keyboard, saxophone, and founding member Laurence Tolhurst on keyboards, although his various addictions saw him contribute little. This caused the band to enlist the aid of Psychedelic Furs' keyboardist Roger O'Donnell, who joined the tour in support of this album. Andrew Brennan played the saxophone on “Hey You!” and “Icing Sugar.”
In the liner notes Smith explains, “Simon had loads of pop ideas, while Porl and Boris tended to come up with more free-form things.” They had so many songs to choose from that they decided to release a double album rather than restrict themselves to a 45-minute record that would have not accurately captured them, coming off as either “too poppy or too atmospheric – neither of which would have been quite right,” according to Smith. Even the double album was not entirely enough as compact discs at the time held 70 minutes, so the track “Hey You!” was cut, but now makes its first appearance on CD.
Kiss Me Kiss Me Kiss Me could easily have been given the title of their 1996 release Wild Mood Swings because the sounds and stories are constantly changing, from wonderful pop confections to exquisite atmospheric pieces, all of which present tales of the duality of ecstasy and despair that accompanies love attained and love unrequited.
The album opens with “The Kiss.” It begins with almost four minutes of a slow, winding intro that captures the smoldering of passion/rage before the narrator reveals, “I never wanted any of this/ I wish you were dead.” The music on “Catch” and Smith’s singing is more melodic. The keyboards sound like violins and the narrator sings about a girl “he tried to catch.” On “Torture” Smith is louder, almost wailing, as he spends “one more treacherous night…with you.” “If Only Tonight We Could Sleep” uses Middle Eastern rhythms to create a dreamy soundscape and the narrator begs for the night to never end.
“Why Can’t I Be You?,” another single from the album, presents us with someone head over heels. “You’re so gorgeous I’ll do anything,” he shouts with glee. The music is big, brash and must be played loudly to dance to and fully appreciate. It’s followed by “How Beautiful You Are” where the narrator explains that he hates his love because “I understand/ that no-one ever knows or loves another” over a quiet arrangement led my an acoustic guitar.
On the bonus disc, tracks 1 through 9 are instrumental demos, tracks 10, 11 and 12 are three alternate studio mixes, and the remaining six tracks are live versions, which include O’Donnell as a member of the touring band. This disc allows the listener to hear the evolution of each song. Changes are noticeable from a demo to its final studio version and from an album cut being recreated in a live setting.
On Kiss Me Kiss Me Kiss Me, Smith’s lyrics present many facets of love while the band matches the intensity and emotion of the stories being told. The Cure demonstrates their growth and talent as artists, leaving no doubt while they were the leaders of alternative music before that genre became a brand name.