The Cure

Pictures of You

Composed by Boris Williams / Laurence Tolhurst / Lol Tolhurst / Porl Thompson / Robert Smith / Roger O'Donnell / Simon Gallup

Song Review by

This is the Cure at their best: a gorgeous, shimmering two-chord cascade of synthesizer slabs, interweaving guitar and bass lines, passionate singing and romantic lyrics from Robert Smith. Two chords are all that Smith needs for a foundation upon which to effortlessly construct one of his exquisite melancholy melodies. The brooding vocalist has a perfect voice for the material, a voice so expressive and commanding that Smith seems to possess an innate and acute understanding of just what notes to economically choose to convey his particular brand of introverted heartbreak. The dense soundscape of the song is representative of the interior depths that Smith plumbs in his lyric. On the page, the words are little more than slightly overwrought, even sophomoric love clich├ęs, but Smith pulls of the Romantic (in the literary sense) with a confident deftness and delivers them with an unquestionable sincerity. Interestingly, the band had long outgrown their goth rock categorization (though, it had always been a dubious pigeonhole) by the 1989 LP Disintegration, and in the lyric of "Pictures of You," Smith actually veers as close as he ever had to the stark and decaying sort of beauty that his more decidedly goth contemporaries aimed for: "Remembering you fallen into my arms/Crying for the death of your heart/You were stone white, so delicate/Lost in the cold /You were always so lost in the dark/Remembering you, how you used to be/Slow drowned, you were angels/So much more than everything/Hold for the last time then slip away quietly /Open my eyes but I never see anything."

There was no other band, at the time -- save New Order -- that was as successful at combining such memorable melodies, dance beats, contemporary electronic instrument sounds, and more traditional and organic rock & roll guitar textures. But while New Order tended to be even more taciturn and oblique in their lyrics, Smith seemed more willing to open up his narrators' -- and by extension, his own --- interior world to his audience, even at the risk of a potentially more risky vulnerability. Perhaps he was quite aware that his now-enormous legion of adoring fans (at the time of the release of this LP, the band was at a commercial peak) were more than eager to hear his lovelorn and wistful tales of heartbreak.

Appears On

Year Artist/Album Label Time AllMusic Rating
Disintegration 1989 Geffen / Polydor 7:04
Mixed Up 1990 Polydor / Universal Music 6:42
Pictures of You 1990 Elektra 4:47
Entreat 1991 Polydor
No Image 1991 Elektra
No Image 1992 Elektra
Show 1993 Elektra 7:38
Galore: The Singles 1987-1997 1997 Elektra 7:29
Galore: The Videos 1987-1997 2001 Universal Distribution
Greatest Hits 2001 Universal International
Trilogy [Video] 2003 Eagle Vision 7:37
Pictures of You/Fear of Ghosts 2004 Rhino 4:49
Love Sucks 2006
Various Artists
Rhino / Rhino/Warner Bros. 4:48
It's a Beautiful Thing: Indie Love Songs 2007
Various Artists
Spectrum Music 4:49
Starter for 10 2007
Original Soundtrack
Rhino 7:26
King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters 2007
Original Soundtrack
Lakeshore Records 4:45
No Image 2008
Various Artists
Universal / Universal Distribution 4:01
The  Vow (Music From the Motion Picture) 2012
Various Artists
Rhino 7:28
Big Shiny 90's Vol. 2
Various Artists
Universal Distribution
No Image
Various Artists
Universal Distribution
No Image
Original Soundtrack
Rhino 7:28
blue highlight denotes editor's pick