100 Greatest Songs of the 80’s #9 The Cure – A Forest

Released : 1980

Sometimes artists build a complex mythology around themselves – witness the vast hauntology universe assembled around Boards of Canada for example – or alternatively they have it built for them, as in the case of Joy Division, or Jeff Buckley.

The Cure are a British institution, emerging during the post punk era, outliving many of their contemporaries despite the potentially fatal Buzzcocks-esque typecasting of early single Boys Don’t Cry. Their second album Seventeen Seconds was the first step; having moved from a trio to a quartet with the additions of Simon Gallup on bass and Matthieu Hartley on keyboards, in it many of their early tokens were at once lost to another country.

There are a million online interpretations of what the lyrics to A Forest mean, a measure of how much it’s ghostly themes of abandonment and disorientation have affected the senses of those hearing it. These feelings are exacerbated by the chilly, horror-movie esque synths, the effects smothered voice of singer Robert Smith and Gallup’s claustrophobic bass. And it was this post modern witchery that became the cornerstone on which their enduring popularity would be built: asked about the words later, Smith, displaying his usual hairbursh free sangfroid, would only say “It’s about a forest”.


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