Disintegration, the eighth full length from mercurial Britpop/Goth heroes The Cure, is a timeless masterpiece, a cornucopia of sound swathed in pure emotion. It’s a true endearing classic, my favorite record of all time, and one I revisit on a normal basis.
Thin Man Brewery’s Saturation Street is a ridiculously dry hopped Double IPA, overloaded with Mosaic, Citra, and Simcoe hops. And, as if the name is striking enough, a caricature of Robert Smith with hop vines for hair adorns the can art, adding another layer to this symbiotic relationship between music and beer.
Thin Man Head Brewer Rudy Watkins says Saturation Street was born out of fortuitous timing, as “Fascination Street” popped onto his playlist as he was searching for a beer name.
“Saturation Street was one of those beers where we went, ‘hey, let’s just something completely and totally ridiculous and I’m pretty happy with how it turned out,” he says. “I was kicking around ideas and kept saying, ‘it’s so saturated, it’s so saturated,’ and then “Fascination Street” just kind of popped up on my playlist and I thought Saturation Street would be a funny name for a beer, so we ran with it. Then Peter [Cahlstadt] did a great job with the label.”
Naturally, I had to bring the two together and drink the aggressively hopped DIPA while listening along The Cure’s Disintegration. It’s like listening to Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon while watching The Wizard of Oz. Well, sort of, but with beer. Hey, if Robert Smith could create this album while on hallucinogenic drugs, I can drink a few beers as I listen along.
Each sip, each song, brings with it a new experience. I still get chills and goosebumps as the cascading wind chimes open the brilliant “Plainsong,” one of the absolute best opening tracks of any record ever. At this point, I have a cold Saturation Street poured into my Thin Man glass and take a deep sip after the record flips over to the absolutely brilliant “Pictures of You,” my favorite song ever written, a song my wife and I danced to at my wedding (a memory that brings tears to my eyes). A massive effort in synth-pop balladry, this track paces the record despite its early placement. And with that, another sip – the hops are dank and resinous on my palate, easily consumable and accessible at this point in this experiment. “Closedown” is a sonic opus, a smattering of atmospheric synth work and Smith’s dynamic vocals, “Lovesong” is a true classic, a mainstream single that stands the test of time, “Last Dance,” another massive offering that shines the spotlight on Smith’s gothic vocal aesthetic, warrants another gulp of Saturation Street, which is going down far too smooth at this point. After the always bizarre “Lullaby,” the reason for this whole thing, “Fascination Street” hits my speakers, as I hastily reach for my glass to finish off this round. This track is a blast of 80’s synthwave nostalgia, a welcomed one at that. Time for another can of Saturation Street.
“I’m a fan of The Cure, I’ve liked them for a long time now and have seen them live five times or something like that,” Watkins says. “They are a band I’ve listened to for like 24 or 25 years. Disintegration is a great album. Growing up as a depressed industrial kid in the 90s, how could you not absolutely love Disintegration? How could you not absolutely love that album in general?”
Kicking off the back half of Disintegration is the sprawling “Prayers for Rain,” another huge track off this album, alongside another can, my last, of Saturation Street. This was one of my favorite songs The Cure played the last time I saw them live in 2001 in Toronto on the Bloodflowers Tour. Overripe mango, pineapple and papaya are now bursting forth, pairing perfectly with the urgency of the track. I can now taste the booze and more oily resin in this beer (8% ABV) as we move to “The Same Deep Water As You,” an immersive, nearly meditative, and underrated track in The Cure’s canon that the Deftones brilliantly covered once. With this beer, and Smith repeatedly crooning ‘the very last thing before I go,’ I feel almost in a trance. In reality, this might be the album’s strongest track. The title track brings some bouncy pomp and circumstance back into the mix, as my next sip brings more dank fruit. There is a stunning sense of closure to Disintegration during its latter stages (the album’s final 4 tracks span over 30 minutes); “Homesick” is truly immersive with poignant keys and strings, and the closing “Untitled” brings it home with fantastic aplomb through lively guitars and punchy drums, wrapping the album up as only The Cure can. And with that, my glass is empty, and this wonderfully fun experiment has concluded.
“I get the complete and total overload of hop oil off of Saturation Street. It’s big and fruity with a little bit of earthiness. There’s a ton of Cascade in there for that earthy note to help balance out those fruit notes. Big tropical fruit, a little bit of earth with some pine and grapefruit going on as well, that’s Saturation Street.”
Thank you to Thin Man for brewing this beer and helping to create one of the more memorable beer experiences for me in recent memory. And thank you, naturally, to The Cure for crafting such a record as Disintegration, an album that really got me through a lot of tough times in my life. And thank you for reading.
Brian Campbell is co-founder and Brand Manager of the Buffalo Beer League, and writes the weekly Buffalo Beer Buzz column. If you have beer news that should be included in the Beer Buzz, Brian can be reached at email@example.com, on Twitter (@buffbeerleague), Instagram (@buffalobeerleague), and Facebook (@thebuffalobeerleague).