With the band itself falling to bits shortly after the March 1985 debut of First and Last and Always
, the album's place in the skewed history of the rise of goth rock would, on one hand, be permanently linked with that discord but, on the other, not impacted in the slightest, leaving the fractious set's success and structure to become a blueprint for an entire generation of up-and-comers. With static drumbeats and jangle-angled guitars backing Andrew Eldritch
's atonic, graveyard vocals, the songs on First and Last and Always
paid to play alongside the ghosts of myriad forgotten post-punkers as well as the band's own goth forebears. From the opening air-fire claustrophobia of "Black Planet" to the melancholy "No Time to Cry," Eldritch
continually assured listeners that "everything's gonna be alright" -- but, really, coming out of that mouth, did anyone actually believe him? Even on the occasional wobbly patches imbedded in the now classic "Marian" and the title track, where the song threatens to dissolve into irrelevance despite Eldritch
's chirky vocal, they pull up wonderfully on the bass-driven, bee-stung guitar gem "Possession" and the closing "Some Kind of Stranger," an untouchable epic that, clocking in at over seven minutes, is the best of its kind from any time -- period. "Some Kind of Stranger" not only became a love song for the doom and gloom crowd, but was also an anthemic, anemic declaration of intent laid bare in a haze of sonic smoke and mirrors. Copied to death, its brilliance has never been replicated. Indeed, the entire album remains unequaled in the genre, permanently granted top place on a pedestal from which it cannot be toppled.