Home Geek LifeCulture Bandbox Unboxed Vol. 16 – The Cure

Bandbox Unboxed Vol. 16 – The Cure

by Patrick Phillips

Prepare your turntable for some heavy rotation bangers vinyl fans, ’cause Bandbox record club is officially in town, and they’re set to bring band-themed boxes to your own front door every single month.

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Groove is in the Bandbox

If you’re wondering what the big deal with Bandbox is, the words FULLY CUSTOMIZABLE explain it all. That’s right, Team Bandbox offers a tailor made listening experience each and every month, giving you the chance to fill your monthly box with artists and albums that fit your own personal tastes. As their slogan goes, it’s pretty much like having the record store delivered to your front door every month, and Bandbox is currently boasting a record store style variety of artists including Neil YoungWeezerJoy Division/New OrderJohnny CashWilco, and Mr. Tom Petty. And just so you know – they’ve got a slew of sexy exclusive color pressings on the way from artists like Death Cab For Cutie, Waxahatchee, and Elliott Smith.  

Customizability is the key to their coveted box. With the choice of a single album from an artist you love, and a fresh edition of the “Band Dox” zine showing up every single month, Team Bandbox has effectively made it possible to hit the record store from the comfort and safety of your very own home. And you can now dig their vinyl+zine treasures for a super reasonable $29 a month. 

Did I mention Bandbox even offers FREE SHIPPING? Well they do. And it’s sort of just the icing on the vinyl box cake.

As for what’s in November’s Bandbox, well, I hope you’ve got you eyeliner handy, ’cause it’s about to get goth as f**k in here with a classic release from The Cure.

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Bandbox’s wonderfully customizable format and increasingly vast catalogue of albums will help ease the nerves of folks wary of the record club scene. Just so you know, you can still choose to be surprised by Team Bandbox every month if that happens to be your bag. But if you remain suspect of the whole show, you should know Bandbox will even let you integrate your Discogs account to ensure they never even offer you something you already have in your collection. 

And if you’re really, really suspect, you can pump the brakes out of your subscription at any time by pressing “pause” on your sub. It’s unlikely you’ll want to “pause” anything once you’ve signed up and experienced Bandbox for yourself. Just know that your Bandbox experience will be every bit as amazing as you make it.

Let the Great World Spin

Hopefully, you read the name The Cure and were every bit as jazzed as I was by the sheer possibilities of what a Cure-fueled Bandbox could be. And sure enough, the B-box crew stacked the November store with a treasure trove of the group’s deepest, darkest delights. As for me, I seized the moment to finally cue up one of the band’s slightly lighter efforts, 1985’s rapturous The Head on the Door.

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And not only does The Head on the Door feature a handful of The Cure’s hookiest singles, it also boasts one of the strongest iterations of Robert Smith’s iconic group.

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The Head on the Door (1985)

I know, when you hear the name The Cure, the last thing most of you think is “light” or “hooky.” And quite frankly, you’re right to not think those things, mostly because Robert Smith and his legendary post-punk/new wave/goth-rock outfit have spent the bulk of the past four decades cultivating one of the more unabashedly moody musical oeuvres in the history of rock & roll. That cultivation began with the release of 1979’s Three Imaginary Boys, and continues to this day, though the band hasn’t released an album proper since 2008’s 4:13 Dream (a fact well-covered in The Cure’s accompanying “Band Dox,” by the way).

As it was, The Head on the Door made its way into thew world in 1985, after a string of near oppressively dreary releases including the fantastic three record run of Seventeen Seconds (1980), Faith (1981), and Pornography (1982). After 1984’s intriguing yet underwhelming The Top, Smith and band released The Head on the Door just under a year later, and kicked off another astonishing three album run that continued with 1987’s immaculate Kiss Me, Kiss Me, Kiss Me, and culminated with The Cure’s 1989 magnum opus Disintegration.

While The Head on the Door is generally not held in quite as high an esteem as the two albums that followed it, there’s little question it’s every bit as accomplished, signaling both a starkly different direction for the band while still sitting snugly alongside the other austere marvels spotting The Cure’s catalogue.

Yes, that change in direction made for one of the poppiest offerings in that catalogue. But let’s be completely honest here, even a poppy version of The Cure is pretty effing dreary, and even as many of the signature songs in The Head on the Door‘s playlist sound as upbeat as Robert Smith and Co. are capable of, lyrically they’re all pretty heavy. Truth is, some are downright depressing in that exquisite way that has become Smith’s trademark over the years.

While fans of The Cure no doubt heard much of the expected doom and gloom in Robert Smith’s lyrics for The Head on the Door, the album was indeed a very different beast sonically. Gone were the washy waves of densely layered guitars and synthesizers that floated in, around, and even through Smith’s voice from one song to the next. And gone were the wistfully whispy vocals Smith so feverishly indulged in throughout. In their place was something altogether unexpected for most fans of The Cure, something not entirely unlike pure pop sensibility that made the album, at least on the surface, sound surprisingly sunny and sweet … and at times even dancy.

Combined with a few signature The Cure moments and some other unexpected departures, that approach led to a handful of classic tracks from the band, “In Between Days,” “Kyoto Song,” “Six Different Ways,” and “Close to Me,” among them. It also made for one of The Cure’s best-received releases with the album entering the UK charts at No. 7, and earning some of the strongest reviews of the band’s career. Smith and co. did, of course, get dark and dreary again for many of their ensuing albums, the blend of dreamy pop and suffocating doom-rock persisted in virtually every album that came after.

That also happens to make The Head on the Door one of the greatest transitional albums ever recorded. And yeah, it’s one of the most purely enjoyable collections The Cure ever released.

A Cardboard Box For Sharing Music

For the record, Bandbox is all about living up to that, “cardboard box for sharing music” definition. As the focus of each month’s box is hardcore customizability, they’ve taken the opportunity to beef up their killer “Band Dox” zines with more pictures, interviews, and insightful artist breakdowns. Which means readers are set to dive deeper into your chosen artist’s history than ever before.

“Band Dox” #25 shines its light into one of the darker musical catalogues in rock history by putting Robert Smith and The Cure center stage and delving deep into a decades-long career as marvelously manic as it is dazzlingly audacious. Here’s a mascara-drenched look at what’s inside.

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Now, once you’ve digested all the juicy bits in this month’s “Band Dox,” it’s time to go ahead and dig out that black, waxy boot inside the dust jacket. Before you get too far in, you’ll want to take note of the inner sleeve, because that’s where you’ll find a full lyrics breakdown for The Cure’s The Head on the Door. And trust me, you’ll want to sing along with every wonderfully wistful word on this beauty.

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As with all Back to Black reissues, this pressing of The Head on the Door comes fit with a digital download of the entire album. Which is great, because these songs are as fit for a downtown commute as they are a stroll in the park on a gray, gloomy day.

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Regarding the wax, well, it’s black, round, and fit with loads of tiny grooves that are bound to bring the feels to your deck. It’s also a hefty 180g, which is always nice to see.

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It’s the Bandbox You Want, And The Bandbox You Need

The “vinyl boom” is not gonna fade away anytime soon, friends. And if you’re one of the many who’ve found themselves giddily swept up in the madness, you’re already aware there’s a million and one ways to get your hands on some sweet, sweet wax. While I’d always encourage you to shop first at your local record store, subscription vinyl clubs really are an excellent way to help fill in/round out your growing collection.

The great thing about Bandbox is that they ultimately leave the choices up to you. So if you’re looking to snag a copy of your fave band’s most popular album, you can do that. But if you’re looking to move beyond the hits and dig deep into said band’s back catalogue, you can do that too. And if you want to get a glimpse behind the curtain of a band’s career, well, Bandbox is the vinyl subscription for you. So get on board and get spinning today!

A huge THANKS to the folks at Bandbox for sponsoring this subscription. If you like what you’ve seen here, you can head over to the newly re-designed Bandbox website and sign up to have a sexy new Bandbox delivered to your own front door every single month. While you’re there, feel free to check out their podcast and merch section too!. And be sure to check back in December to see what goodies the Bandbox team sends our way next month!

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