Originating in the ‘70s and still going today, The Cure has had a long and varied career in alternative music. And no single album by the group is more representative of everything they have ever been than The Head on the Door. The pop hits are here, the darkness is here, and then there’s Robert Smith’s hair. Released in 1985, The Head on the Door came to me when I was 15 years old. It was easy to like to dance to songs like “Close to Me” and “In Between Days”, but it was the open, atmospheric melancholy of “Kyoto Song” and others that, while never really knowing what the song was about, reached inside. And then there’s “Sinking,” which perfectly captures the sort of depression that can strike someone at 15. When Robert Smith sings “I am slowing down / as the years go by / I am sinking,” over that perpetually descending bass line, you get the feeling that someone knows exactly how you feel.
This album prompted me to reach back through The Cure’s back catalog at the time, unearthing other pop treasures (Japanese Whispers) and true darkness (Pornography). Then 1986 brought the compilation Standing on the Beach and its companion b-side compilation, followed by 1987’s Kiss Me, Kiss Me, Kiss Me (a close runner-up for this list), and The Cure was solidified as one of my favorite bands.