Released : 1992
1992. From America’s North West, a hybrid sound long in the making but almost hermetically sealed from the mainstream, germinated by outfits such as The Pixies through Sonic Youth, Hüsker Dü, before them The Minutemen was emerging which combined the sociopath aggression and nihilism of punk with the opiate neuroses of seventies hard rock. From an original scene which had been female friendly, L7 aside, it quickly became dominated by groups of strung out young men exploring themes of addiction, loss and the malignancy of Bush-era culture. Welcome to grunge.
How would Britain react to this? Our initial answer was usually to remind the world that we’d invented punk – a suggestion which conveniently ignored The Stooges or the MC5 – but in our quest to prove we were the best at everything, when it came to gloom we had a not-so-secret weapon; Robert Smith, and whoever was playing in The Cure.
This was the band after all who in their earlier career had brought us songs like The Funeral Party, The Drowning Man and A Forest. Smith himself seemed perennially wrapped in despondency, despite various musical efforts latterly to, you know, cheer up. Friday I’m In Love however was not the riposte to American disaffection the world was anticipating.
Written and recorded in a single night (Yes, a Friday), Smith has predictably oscillated since between love and contempt for the “dumb” pop monster he dreamed up whilst thinking about the sweet thrill of a week’s end. It wasn’t that The Cure hadn’t walked in the daylight before, it was just that faced with a sea of down tuned guitars and blank expressions, expectations were for something with an aura of Cruel Britannia. Instead, we were presented with a song that was much more off with their head rather than off their heads, a brilliant example of the sort of contrarianism which had long been this little island’s true gift to the world.