The Cure The Cure

[Geffen; 2004]

Rating: 4/5

Styles: goth rock, alternative rock
Others: New Order, Interpol, Joy Division, Radiohead, Siouxsie & the Banshees

Anyone who has been a fan of The Cure longer than fifteen years will tell you the extreme difficulty in trying to accurately describe their career in just a few sentences. As one of those people, I find that I don't even have the right words for one album review. I've started this one over at least fifteen times. But the reason for my ineptness is that The Cure is the one single band that made me fall in love with music. In fact, they were the womb that birthed my love for the arts. So, accurately fitting all my collective thoughts into one cohesive review has proven to be difficult.

One thing I can say about this new material is that The Cure finally has their shit together again. And it's about time. It's been way too long since they've released an album that could contend with some of their better albums of the past. So it's only fitting that this album should land them back in the forefront of dark pop.

My experience has taught me that The Cure's success has always been based around the mood of Robert Smith. As any selfish Cure fan (guilty) will tell you, we're happier with the music when Bob is sad. I mean, that's what made them transcendent in the first place and what captured the attention of a lot of unhappy teens in the mid-to-late '80 and early '90s, at least until things somehow started to fall off track in 1996 when the band became ridiculously pop-oriented.
1996's Wild Mood Swings was unquestionably the largest pitfall of their career. Subsequent album, Bloodflowers, showed a slight swell of promise, but ultimately relied way too heavily on Robert's acoustic guitar to truly have a dark aesthetic. Nonetheless, with their new album, simply titled The Cure, it's apparent that the happy pills Robert took during that period have been thrown in the trash and replaced with a heavy prescription of reprisal; great news for us Cure fans.

Upon hearing the first two minutes of "Lost," I began to feel extremely excited about what the new album had to offer. I'd fallen to this scheme before, though, with "Want" from Wild Mood Swings, only to be brutally let down by the time the album ended. But then "Labyrinth" played and kept up with the same intensity as "Lost." I thought to myself, "These songs are pretty damn good." And pretty damn good they are.

Like all the albums The Cure has released since Head on the Door, there's the token "radio-friendly" single, "The End of the World." The good news is that it's nowhere close to being their worst single ("Mint Car"). Even the mellower songs are heavier and denser than we've previously heard before. The pitfall, unfortunately, lies within Robert's lyrics. It seems Robert may have written too many songs over his career to have something new to say. And honestly, the vocals have been the part of The Cure's music that has always touched me the least since Disintegration, mainly because they were so sparse on that album and allowed more room for the instrumentation to take the driver's seat.

As a new generation is certainly becoming aware of one of the most influential artists of the past 20 years, this is a much better effort than anything they've done in quite some time. It will probably appeal more to those who have stuck around than new fans. If you just so happen to be one of those old school fans who have waited much too long, The Cure is probably the closest you're going to come to transporting yourself back in time.

1. Lost
2. Labyrinth
3. Before Three
4. The End of the World
5. Anniversary
6. Us or Them
7. Alt. End
8. (I Don't Know What's Going) On
9. Taking Off
10. Never
11. The Promise