PopMatters has been running a series of “Masters of the Form” articles on The Cure, and the most recent installment is about Disintegration:
By 1989, Smith had grown a bit weary of his new found pop stardom and was determined to swim out of the mainstream back into what he thought were the deeper waters of the band’s earlier work. That year the Cure released Disintegration a conscious look away from the unabashed pop of Kiss Me, Kiss Me, Kiss Me and the mainstream success it had garnered. Disintegration was a brooding album that, taken at face value, could have put an end to the band’s success. However, the Cure proved to be, as always, a band of contradiction. In 1985 they released a defining statement, The Head on the Door an amazing album that was seemingly recorded with mass appeal in mind and the album simply got them noticed. In 1987 they released Kiss Me, Kiss Me, Kiss Me a far messier affair, lacking its predecessor’s focus and cohesion, and the album made them superstars. So naturally, Disintegration an album that was meant to alienate the mainstream to a certain degree, essentially an album that was meant to sell less, became the most successful album of the band’s career.