I think this is a terrific album opener – heart on the sleeve, in your face, setting the tone and preparing you for what is to come.
Dickens is a master at summing up people in brief but evocative descriptions, and I think The Cure have a similar talent for summing up emotions and situations in (relatively) brief but evocative pieces of music. The Promise is a vivid portrait of deep disappointment and grief, and it instantly took me back to the last time I’d heard someone express these emotions, to the same painful extent. The fact that this was also on my iPod and in the garden probably helped to link the two; the brain does things like this…
The general vibe about this album from other people had been fairly negative – including from my husband, who sampled it in a record shop when it came out but decided he didn’t like the sound. But you know what, I’ve just given it a spin and I like it.
Just clarifying – looking at what’s been written out there, on Reddit and forums and in the music press, I get the general impression that quite a few of the original fans (or at least the most vocal ones) were never really happy again post-Wish (or some of them, post-Pornography). The extra-whiny complaining began with Wild Mood Swings, and never really ended. Sometimes I think that it’s common for people get stuck in a perceived golden musical age of their own teenage years, possibly because that’s when everything is fresh, and a lot of neural connections are being made, and people go through a lot of feelings. Once you’ve grown up, you may not be quite so easy to move or inspire again, particularly if there’s a tendency to nostalgia, and a dissatisfaction with the present in general. And the problem may actually be that, and not the music.