The Cure (Geffen B0002870-00)
La Fée: When The Cure's excellent Bloodflowers LP came out back in 2000, it seemed they couldn't get arrested, and yet now they're back with what doesn't seem to be anything much different, and they're getting praise from all corners. What gives?
Absinthe: Really? I'm kinda oblivious to music press and whatever they saying about it. I did read a crappy review that claimed the new disc was "a return to the style of Disintegration." I, of course, found this VERY amusing.
La Fée: It's much more of a "return to the style of Wish," for better and worse. In fact, after the big to-do made of Bloodflowers completing a trilogy that began with Pornography and Disintegration, I can't help but think that The Cure completes a trilogy that began with Head on the Door and continued with Wish although you can group almost any three Cure albums and call them a trilogy. At any rate, this one reminds me most of Wish.
Absinthe: Yeah, there is definitely a similarity between certain discs that encourages grouping. I agree with the Wish similarities. The ultra-distortion of some songs mixed with the poppier singles and a few throw-away tracks is very Wish-y. Wild Mood Swings is an even more similar match, though. It almost seems like Bloodflowers was an interruption in the progression of ideas from Wish to Wild Mood Swings, and now The Cure. Come to think of it, if you look at Disintegration as an interruption in the middle of The Top, Head on The Door, and Kiss Me, all of the discs in the post-"Let's Go To Bed" era are pretty similar. Hmmm. Maybe there aren't necessarily "trilogies," but two different developing lines of Cure discs.
La Fée: Well, Robert Smith never has been able to reconcile his "pop" side with his "angst" side, and so the albums always seem a bit schizo. But that's not such a bad thing I quite enjoy both sides of his tortured coin. I must admit, though, that The Cure is something of a letdown for the first time, he really sounds like he's out of ideas, and is now just repeating himself.
Absinthe: I'm pretty pleased with a lot of the the disc, really. "Lost" is a smashing opener, "End of The World" is a great single (though the "wooo-ooo" part is somewhat taxing), "Us or Them" is a nice dose of angst in the tradition of "Shiver and Shake," "Give Me It," and "Cut," while "Promise" is a wonderfully noisy ten-minute closer. These are all worthy additions to The Cure canon. It's the poppier songs on the second half of that disc that really lose me: "Alt.End," "I Dont Know What's Going On," "Taking Off," and "Never." Most of the songs on the second half of Mood Swings (aside from "Treasure" and "Bare") are similar. They're just total throwaways.
La Fée: I hear ya "Taking Off" even rewrites "2 Late," the band's best b-side surely if you find yourself rewriting a b-side, that's not a good sign. "Never" uses guitar lines from "Push," but somehow is even more forgettable than "Wendy Time." I do enjoy the songs while they're playing, but I never seem to remember them later. Instead, I find myself humming older Cure tunes. All the ingredients are there, but it hasn't been baked into anything.
Absinthe: Really, the only new ground covered is on "Lost" and "Promise." If these two songs were put together as a 15-minute EP, we'd have a fantastic, new direction for The Cure. Throw in "Us and Them" and we'd have a really loud 20-minute, distortion-driven disc. I think that's what Robert Smith was really after with this album. The production is very raw. Some of the vocals seem like rough, first takes. Robert really pushes the anger in his vocals unlike ever before, really. This works very well on the three heavier tracks mentioned above, but works very poorly on the pop tunes. Cure singles need super-polished production like on "High" or "Just Like Heaven." This is just not the case on this disc. I think it has a lot to do with it being somewhat unsuccessful.
They really should have covered "Cum on Feel The Noize" and "Crazy Train" on the second half of the disc. THAT would have been excellent.
La Fée: Did you watch the bonus DVD?
Absinthe: Yeah, I actually watched it before I even listened to the album. The DVD is pretty much an instrumental distortion-frenzy. It's okay.
La Fée: That's being generous. Even as a fan, I was extremely fidgety trying to get through it. Not exactly worth the extra three bucks. But that's beside the point, as undoubtedly I will always be obliged to buy anything The Cure puts out "special editions" especially. At least I know that the upcoming reissue series will satisfy the Cure-cravings left unfulfilled by this studio album.
Absinthe: Yeah. The video of the roadie dancing they kept coming back to during "Promise" was pretty annoying. It definitely could have been a lot better. I remember how excellent Play Out was. That was basically a "Making of Wish" videotape, and it was great. When is that going to be re-released on DVD? Maybe with the re-masters?
I'm kinda surprised how depressing our review is for a band we both consider to be one of our favorites. I guess it's in the great Cure tradition. If they write "music-to-slit-your-wrists-to," then this is certainly the review equivalent: "record-review-to-slit-your-wrists-to."
La Fée: Well, we ought to cut 'em some slack the fact that they've made as many great albums as they have is impressive, and I can't think of anyone who doesn't start coasting as they get older (and dear Robert's in his 40s).
Perhaps we should count our blessings mediocre album aside, The Cure is still one of the world's most consistently good and amazingly underrated bands. This album may not be for "us" (the longtime fans), but maybe it'll get some youngsters on board who would otherwise be listening to, like, Korn. Of course, the world would be a better place if we would all simply listen to "Cum on Feel the Noize."
Absinthe: Oh, definitely. The great songs on The Cure will definitely find their way into my iTunes playlist. And I'd rather have a new Cure disc with a few throwaway songs, than no new Cure disc at all.
Perhaps we could talk the Cure AND Korn into participating on a double disc of nothing but covers of "Cum on Feel The Noize?" I think that Diana Krall, Fiona Apple (of course), Traci Lords, and Dead or Alive could all make GREAT versions of "Cum on Feel The Noize." The song's about three minutes long, so at around 70 minutes per disc, that allows 45 different bands to take part in this grand project.
La Fée: I'm in. And I think that Robert would get a big kick out of it, too. Kevin DuBrow, of course, would have to write the liner notes.
Review by La Fée & Dr. Martin Absinthe