“Kiss me” read red lips, flashing across the cover.
Like a dare that won’t stop there, they repeat: Three times. Three strikes. Three bullets: raining sleep-depriving, teeth-grinding, acid-eying lust. Asking nicely is for suckers and squares, these red lips want more than a passing flirt—It’s a full-bore Gothic seduction dripping blood from cat-scratched, psychedelic fingertips or nothing at all. Blushing through the pale makeup and pawing with scarlet stumps slick over Lovecat keys past, this record mewls and hisses so merciless. Give it an ear and hear it bite back. Seconds stumble into minutes as those red lips suckle for a crimson congeal. No gray and black Disintegration, no pink and purple Pornography, just red riot lipstick cooing for some licks: a lick for “The Kiss,” a lick of “Torture,” licks in “The Snakepit,” licking “Like Cockatoos” and licking to “Fight.” It licks until it screams: “lock tight thy thighs and clutch thy Porls!”
Thompson couldn’t agree more—whether on saxophone or guitar: sink your claws and hold on. Red hot from top to bottom, he plays no opaque imperfections for a take, just branding burn pearls. Robert Smith may vacillate cut to cut like the vermillion vespers on his cheeks, but not the Porls.
Never the Porls. They’re always there, those Porls.
Perhaps accompanied by a Tolhurst—abundant acronym his name may become, Lol’s keyboard textures like sinking to the floor of the mix. Balancing the bass and bending the backboards as drums bounce and reverb in the space of the attice. From there the Porls laugh or scream or howl or throw their arms around each cut’s neck. It’s amazing the Porls even go from here to there for 17 tracks and back. By albums end it feels like some must have rolled away on the floor, rolling on and on, lost with a “Shiver and Shake” and lost for “A Thousand Hours,” they’re lost on “One More Time.” Not spit like a sunflower shell from the mouths of sick clams but lost because they meandered too far from those clutch-claw hands.
Too bad—what’s left is still a poor man’s fortune. Coloured with hues so different, scratched and sharp; shining with sapphire or rouging with ruby, these cuts coax with all the tinsel but are not. They trip on exhaustion-ridden riddles of sitars synthesized from guitars on “If Only Tonight We Could Sleep,” funk like brash lashing brass sections on “Hot Hot Hot!!!” and pop those pipedream promises all over “How Beautiful You Are.” “Oh, I’m sorry,” red lips sneer and click with no sarcasm: “did you mistake me for someone else—someone nice?”
The cuts stacked in a card house cruelty— and they’ll seduce you to think that’s just alright with them, baby. To think that those were the initials “J.B.” you see on “Hot Hot Hot !!!” jacketbacks or the jangle of tangled Bangles you heard on the wrists of “The Perfect Girl.”
To think: It would make a man morose!
Not a worry: lullaby bed-time stories tumble off Smith’s tongue time to time (“The Catch”) or he’ll twist tales of envy and sick admiration (“Why Can’t I Be Like You?) but these widower’s tales tell nothing about the hallucinatory happiness that cross-eyed and little-listening critics could crucify themselves on. Chumps drowning themselves like fools, thinking the rest is “Just Like Heaven” too. Believe or believe not this paradise through-and-through, but “All I Want” still will hammer the nails right through your hands and you. Caught feasting on an apple of Eden, the cut is banished under a guitarwork of bestial burden and rage: “All I want,” Smith pauses, “is to hold you like a dog.” Run ragged, it sounds more like poor he wants the proverbial you like a small girl wants her doll. But not just any doll, no—no baby-blue Barbie or creepy Cabbage Patch Kid. No, red lips want you like a stuffed puppy dog.
Taxidermy dead, posed however the highest bidder likes, placed above bed where only they can reach, this album is the dom, and you are the bitch. So clutch your goddamn Porls and cry: those red lips ready to languish long with no safe word and no reason why. Filled with pleasure at the sound of all this freaky fun, those red lips glisten and question: “One More Time” and will it be done? No, it’s just manners and a kerchief to wipe clean the tongue. Biting down so hard and for so long, no new flavor hides in taste of blood.
Red lips just want to drain dry and bathe in your youth and splendor. Keyboard gothica plays from the speakers and whatever black power force eyes open to watch the end of the bloodbath. As they lie with hands on each side of tub glass-eyed listening “Like Cockatoos,” craning to croon again to keyboards or needing the pure cold sax of “Icing Sugar.” Play time for those red lips has been over by “A Thousand Hours.” The acid is in piss puddles, the psilocybin’s stopped and the album blasted off a while ago. But those red lips still gorge on their fucked-up fun. Soaking for youth and drowning in emotion, red lips detach themselves no matter how much the soul begs for another scream, another riff run, another song to yell “Fight!” But fight’s just another word for kiss—three hollers, three strikes, three bullets. “Fight, fight, fight!” they scream. “Kiss me, kiss me, kiss me” they mean.
Like the Cure ever needed that exclamation point.
Producers: Dave Allen and Robert Smith
Genres: Goth Rock, Psychedelic Rock
- “The Kiss”
- “If Only Tonight We Could Sleep”
- “Why Can’t I Be You?”
- “How Beautiful You Are”
- “The Snakepit”
- “Just Like Heaven”
- “All I Want”
- “Hot Hot Hot!!!”
- “One More Time”
- “Like Cockatoos”
- “Icing Sugar”
- “The Perfect Girl”
- “A Thousand Hours”
- “Shiver and Shake”