The Cure have been around for more than forty years, with leader Robert Smith the only constant member. The band formed in Crawley, West Sussex, in 1976, and have covered a lot of ground over their career, from the Gothic post-punk intensity of 1982’s Pornography through to the breezy surprise hit ‘Friday I’m In Love’ in 1992.
‘The Exploding Boy’ was a b-side to ‘In Between Days’, the lead single from The Head on the Door. The parent record peaked at number 7, making it their most successful album in the UK, and it also cracked the top 75 in the US. The Head on the Door marked a transition towards sunnier music for the band, with Smith noting an influence from Siouxsie and the Banshees. He told Melody Maker in 1985 regarding Head on the Door; “It reminds me of the Kaleidoscope album, the idea of having lots of different sounding things, different colours”.
The lyrics of ‘The Exploding Boy’ are typically glum, but the music’s upbeat, with the dominant textures coming from vigorously strummed acoustic guitar and saxophone. The song was originally planned to be the title track of the band’s new project, but was pushed to a b-side when it was deemed too similar to ‘In Between Days’.
The Cure are a beloved band with a lot of strong b-sides, and they’ve been anthologised thoroughly. The 1986 cassette version of the compilation Standing on a Beach featured twelve b-sides, including ‘The Exploding Boy’, while the b-side box set Join the Dots, featured four discs spanning 1978-2001.
The Exploding Boy Lyrics
I couldn’t hear a word you said
I couldn’t hear at all
You talked until your tongue fell out
And then you talked some more
I knew if I turned
I’d turn away from you
And I couldn’t look back
Tell yourself, we’ll start again
Tell yourself, it’s not the end
Tell yourself, it couldn’t happen
Not this way, not today