The Head on the Door represented The Cure’s first big breakthrough: Buoyed by bona fide pop melodies, the 1985 album marked a definitive break with the claustrophobic intensity of the goth icons’ early-’80s run. Four years later, Disintegration would enlarge their vision to stadium-sized proportions, confirming The Cure’s status as alt-rock titans. Where Disintegration’s predecessor, 1987’s giddy Kiss Me Kiss Me Kiss Me, swung wildly between opposing feelings, Disintegration is a deep dive into a singular mood: dreamy, wistful, and deeply melancholy, imbued with all the drama of standing at the railing of a rain-slicked ship as it sails away and gazing at the lover left behind. Disintegration fully sharpened The Cure’s pop instincts: “Pictures of You,” “Lovesong,” and “Fascination Street” are as immediate and indelible as anything in their catalog. But the band have tempered their emotions, so that even the major-key tonalities of a track like “Plainsong” aren’t as blindingly bright as on the previous album; they’re a deeper, richer hue, like beams of sunlight penetrating aquamarine depths. The textures are remarkably lush: a sumptuous mix of guitars and synths so swirled together that it’s tough to say where one instrument ends and the next begins. That oceanic mood carries through in the way songs flow from one to another: The churning chords of “Last Dance” give way to the relative calm of “Lullaby,” and in the back half, the stretch from “Fascination Street” through “Homesick” comprises a kind of suite. There’s an echo of Pornography’s bleakness here, but this time, the descent into despair is strangely welcoming—it’s as though Robert Smith and his bandmates had discovered that on the coldest nights, wrapping up in one’s own loneliness is the only way to stay warm.