The Cure – Seventeen Seconds (1980) – Lp
The Cure are an English rock band formed in Crawley, West Sussex, in 1976. The band has experienced several line-up changes, with vocalist, guitarist and principal songwriter Robert Smith being the only constant member.
Artist: The Cure
Title: Seventeen Seconds
Label: Polydor Records
Seventeen Seconds is the second studio album by English rock band the Cure, recorded at Morgan Studio and released on 22 April 1980 by Fiction Records. Seventeen Seconds established the group’s gloomy sound that would continue until 1982’s Pornography. It is the only Cure album to feature keyboardist Matthieu Hartley.
Inspiration was very high for the album, as Robert Smith wrote the lyrics and music for most of the record on just two occasions. Most of the music was composed by Smith in his parents’ home, on a Hammond organ with a built-in tape recorder. Interviewed in 2004, producer Mike Hedges does not recall any demo tracks, with the band generally playing the track in the studio before laying down a backing track to which overdubs were added.
Two members of The Magazine Spies, bass guitarist Simon Gallup and keyboardist Matthieu Hartley, were added to the band’s lineup. Gallup replaced Michael Dempsey, which relieved Smith as he felt Dempsey’s basslines were too ornate and that they weren’t getting on socially. Hartley’s synth work added a new dimension to the band’s newly ethereal sound, although Smith and he clashed over complexity (Hartley enjoyed complex chords; Smith wanted single notes). Hartley left the group after Seventeen Seconds.
Due to budgetary restraints, the record was recorded and mixed in seven days on a budget of between £2,000 and £3,000, which resulted in the band working 16 or 17 hours a day to complete the album. Smith stated that as a result, the track “The Final Sound” was actually planned to be much longer, but was cut down to 53 seconds because the tape ran out while recording, and they couldn’t record it again.
The record, mostly a collection of downbeat tracks, features ambient echoing vocals and minimally-treated instruments, with the album’s sonic direction driven by its drum sound.
Seventeen Seconds has been considered an early example of gothic rock. Jeff Apter, author of the Cure biography Never Enough: The Story of The Cure, wrote that, along with Faith, the band’s next album, Seventeen Seconds‘ “gloomscapes” would be “a sonic touchstone for the goth movement.” The track “The Final Sound”, in particular, he wrote, “[is] so positively gothic you could almost be fooled into believing that it was lifted from the soundtrack of some Hammer horror gorefest”.
1. A Reflection (2:12)
2. Play For Today (3:41)
3. Secrets (3:20)
4. In Your House (4:08)
5. Three (2:36)
1. The Final Sound (0:52)
2. A Forest (5:55)
3. M (3:04)
4. At Night (5:54)
5. Seventeen Seconds (4:00)