I've been listening to pretty much exclusively The Cure for the past couple of weeks, and have no plans to change my listening habits anytime soon.
It's been a good half-decade since I seriously sat down and listened to their music, and even sold off a lot of my old Cure CD's in that time. Now I kinda wish I hadn't. For a while it was 'oh, the old punk stuff is good and so is 'The Top' but everything else sucks,' then 'I guess 'Disintegration' is pretty cool, too,' then, 'oh fuck it, it's all good, even the stuff that isn't.'
So, on that note, here is how I NOW rank The Cure's discography from favorite to least favorite:
The Top (1984)
Not too typical of the 'Cure' sound, but what album is, really? This one is by far the weirdest and hardest listen, but maybe that's why it's still my favorite overall. Or maybe it's because there are the doom and gloom tracks ('Shake Dog Shake')AND the upbeat pop tracks ('The Caterpillar'.) It sounds like Robert Smith on acid, and apparently that's exactly what it is (as he was using LSD daily at this point)
I used to hate this record for some reason...thought it was kinda boring and dated-sounding. Now I see that's not the case at all, and that 'Plainsong' is even heavier than the heaviest Electric Wizard tracks. Seriously. Turn those synths into distorted guitars and see what happens.
Seventeen Seconds (1980)
This was close...and honestly, this is probably one of the lesser-listened-to albums of theirs, but the overall mood can't be beat. I would put it further down on the list, but in the right time and place, this one is aces.
Three Imaginary Boys/Boys Don't Cry (1979)
These two are together because it's basically the same record, give or take a couple tracks. If you compile them all together, it makes one big great punk record. Simple songs with really odd lyrics and arrangements. Listening to this, it's no surprise why these guys got so many second chances (and they almost always disappoint some people, which is another reason why I like them so much--that they're not afraid to do this.)
The Head on the Door (1985)
A pop record...kind of...this is one of the albums most people know. Everything on it is great, even the tracks that weren't singles. I especially like 'Push.'
Kiss Me, Kiss Me, Kiss Me (1987)
To me, this and 'Head' are pretty much interchangeable, although this one is a good deal longer. Same mood, same types of songs, etc.
The more I listen to this album, the more I like it. Similar to 'Disintegration' but with more 'modern' production techniques. It'll probably end up moving up in the list someday. Maybe. Ha.
Used to hate this one, too...it's not so bad, really. REALLY dark stuff, but the best songs on it are perhaps some of the Cure's best songs overall.
Japanese Whispers (1983)
This isn't really an 'album,' but it is 8 songs that don't appear on any other release (other than their respective singles.) THIS is the only Cure album that really sounds dated to me now, with all the cheesy synths, but 'Lovecats' is so damn good.
Good, not great. That's all I gotta say about it. The singles are good, and a couple other tracks stand out.
Never got into this one too much. Still don't like it all that well. It sounds too much like a 'lesser' version of 'Seventeen Seconds'--like those songs without the cool vocals effects and mood pieces. I gave it multiple tries. Oh well. Not every one is a winner.
Wild Mood Swings (1996)
Gonna have to re-listen to this one, too, but it's kind of like 'Wish' in that nothing really stands out too much. 'Mint Car' is a really gay song and I don't like it too much.
I haven't listened to their two most recent albums (4:13 Dream and S/T) so I can't really say anything about those. Didn't like what I heard from S/T, but what I heard from 'Dream' wasn't all that bad.
...once again, just 'cuz some of these are lower on the totem pole, that doesn't mean I HATE them, per se. I actually appreciate all the music Robert Smith has created, and I think he's one of the best living songwriters. Obviously not every song he writes is a home run, but for how many albums his band has done, I'd say they're pretty much untouchable.
...also, as an honorary mention, 'The Exploding Boy' doesn't appear on any album but the 'Join the Dots' B-Sides collection, and is my FAVORITE Cure song of all time. It almost moves that compilation to the top, even though some of it isn't that good. Actually, the first disc is about 80% great. 'Mr. Pink Eyes,' a b-side from 'The Top,' is another favorite of mine.
The list, overall, is a little inaccurate too, because it probably varies from day to day. For example, today I've been rocking 'Bloodflowers' nonstop, and haven't even given a thought to 'Kiss Me x3.' Oh well.
Pretty soon here, I'm gonna post a collection of lo-fi Cure covers that myself and the Coma Nova folk have been putting together. Some are pretty straightforward, others not so much.
Now go out there and give your entire paycheck to Robert Smith in exchange for these wonderful albums.