More than anything else, the Cure is a group of supremely gifted noisemakers. Their dense, punkish minimalism is as much the product of studio technology as of any notion of aesthetics, and their ability to wring emotional nuances from a droning guitar or an echo-laden drum is truly remarkable. Unfortunately, that trick is also the most overused one in the band’s tiny repertoire, and it tires quickly. It is all very well to express a lot with a little, but the Cure most frequently uses a little to express nothing, and the effect is numbing in the extreme.
Lyrically, the Cure seems stuck in the terminal malaise of adolescent existentialism. Pornography opens with bad fatalism (“It doesn’t matter if we all die”), closes on a bad pun (“I must fight this sickness/Find a Cure…”) and spends the intervening moments dispensing the sort of clichés usually reserved for bad poetry in high-school literary journals. Backed by music that relies less on melody than thick slabs of heavily treated sound, Pornography comes off as the aural equivalent of a bad toothache. It isn’t the pain that irks, it’s the persistent dullness, and that makes this Cure far worse than the disease.