On April 14, 1981, the Cure released their third studio album Faith, an LP which took the dark sounds of their previous effort, Seventeen Seconds, and said, “Oh, you thought that was dark?” and then just laughed and laughed and laughed...
Co-produced by the band with the assistance of Mike Hedges, who had engineered The Cure’s debut Three Imaginary Boys and both produced and engineered the band’s aforementioned sophomore effort, Faith wasn’t always destined to be a dark album. In fact, in a 2004 interview with Rolling Stone, frontman Robert Smith said, “The initial demos that we did in my mom and dad’s dining room are really quite upbeat. Then, within about two weeks, the whole mood of the band had completely changed.”
The cause for the shift? Well, per Smith, “The whole band had a family member die,” which - if we’re reading that correctly and he means that every member of the band individually lost a family member - makes the mood change decidedly understandable. Either way, by the time Smith actually entered the studio to record the songs “All Cats Are Grey” and “Primary,” he did so with the hope that the results would sound “funereal.”
In fact, he decided that they “just sounded dull,” so those versions obviously didn’t end up making it onto the LP. Blaming the disappointing recordings on the studio, The Cure made a few other attempts at other locations, ultimately settling on Morgan Studios in London, with much of the material on Faith actually being penned in the studio.
When Faith ultimately emerged, preceded by the release of “Primary” as a single, the critics were of mixed minds, although New Musical Express were certainly unafraid to express their dissatisfaction, writing that the album “says absolutely nothing meaningful,” while Record Mirror held even less back, calling it “hollow, shallow, pretentious, meaningless, self-important and bereft of any real heart or soul.”
Well, there’s no accounting for taste. For the record, though, NME said of the album, "It's gloomy but frequently majestic, never using brute force where auto-suggestion will do. You may not love it, but you'll become addicted to it.” And if there’s any question as to how well it’s aged, AllMusic calls it “a depressing record, certainly, but also one of the most underrated and beautiful albums The Cure put together.”
If you’re still on the fence about it, give it another listen and it might just turn you around. Have faith.