Galore (Elektra/Fiction 62117)
I know plenty of people who hate "best of" or "singles" albums, but these types of CDs really have their place, in my opinion. With many artists, you'd really not want to sift through entire albums (Lisa Lisa & Cult Jam, for example, or Chicago), and with others, it's just nice to have a portable artist jukebox to tote around. Galore is the second Cure singles compilation (the previous installment was Standing on the Beach, covering everything up to The Head on the Door), this one covering everything from Kiss Me Kiss Me Kiss Me on.
The latter half of the Cure's career has been just as productive and even more stylistically interesting than the first ("classic") half. This is a band for whom the album format is truly the ultimate canvas, but their singles have always been great. Robert Smith's pop instincts are undeniable, if often undeniably strange. The albums can be schizoid, and alternately they can be incredibly powerful the singles don't always give you a good idea of what the albums are like. Kiss Me, for example, is represented here by "Why Can't I Be You?," "Catch," "Just Like Heaven," and "Hot Hot Hot!!!," all great singles for sure, but culled from an album that is considerably less lightweight and bubbly as those songs might lead you to believe. This makes Galore all the more interesting, because it kind of lets you in on the "other" Cure that is, the Cure that everyone else hears, who isn't that into the band. Frat boys and that ilk are into a very different Cure than the goth kids are, but you know what? They're both good Cures.
As with most singles comps, this one's not very emotionally deep, since there's no real intent behind it than to collect the hits. In doing that, it offers a highly pleasure-filled ride. The fact that Robert Smith has written as many truly great singles in such an original voice as he has is truly inspiring. It's both sad and kind of good that he remains a cult figure (albeit a cult figure who routinely sells out huge arenas). Galore, by all means, should be one of those in-demand CDs that everyone wants. I doubt it's sold much at all (the goofy cover art of a baby eating an ice cream cone won't help that). I picked it up despite the duplication of tracks I already have, just to get that all-killer Cure program for when a full album is just unnecessary. Sure, I've heard these songs millions of times, but they don't tire. "Catch" is as funny as it ever was. "And sometimes we would spend the night/Just rolling about on the floor/And I remember even though it felt soft at the time/I always used to wake up sore." Bob Dorough would even like that line.
The weirdness of the Kiss Me singles leads to the seriousness of the Disintegration singles ("Lullaby," "Fascination Street," "Lovesong," "Pictures of You"), all peak songs from Smith's career. "Lovesong," as big of a hit as it became, remains as strong to me now as ever. What a perfect song "alternative" in the true sense of writing a standard in a totally non-standard way. Gorgeous, as is the passionate and perfect "Pictures of You." That song just kills me every time.
Onward to Mixed Up: the crunchy breakbeat/guitar stutter of "Never Enough" and the quirky "Close To You" remix that is actually just as fresh and good as the original. From Wish we get "High," "Friday I'm in Love," and the underrated "A Letter to Elise" a trio of great singles from the Cure's last period of unchallenged greatness.
Four singles off Wild Mood Swings make a stronger case for that CD than it does by itself, although I still shake my head and say "Four singles off Wild Mood Swings?" That album was hardly Thriller, I mean let's be serious. But these are good songs, flowing well from the more well-established greatness that precedes. "The 13th" is as weird a song as Smith has ever recorded, sort of a cross between the zaniness of "The Lovecats" and the general madcap insanity of The Top as a whole, managing to be kind of subtle despite having mariachi horns.
"Mint Car" is a "Friday I'm in Love" type song that deserved more airplay than it got. "Strange Attraction" is a unique single, decidedly Cure but more like what you might expect from a Robert Smith solo album (in the same way Full Moon Fever is subtly different from Tom Petty's work with the Heartbreakers and I know I've lost credibility with all concerned by mentioning Tom Petty as a genuine comparison in a Cure review). "Gone!" is one of those songs that takes a lot of listens to "get" I'm not there with it yet, though. The token new song, "Wrong Number," continues the 90s Cure trend of fiddling around with twerpy synths and programmed drumbeats a good song, and very much a "token new song on a best of" if you get me.
Overall yowza, what a body of work this band has left. The Cure really deserves more props. Galore is an argument that the 90s have not been a decline for the band, and a pretty solid argument at that. Of course, it doesn't take much to convince me, but I'm glad the frat boys will also get the idea with a no-brainer CD like this one. Finally, I should mention that the sound is great and I think everything's been remixed or possibly these are just all single mixes. Either way, they're almost not at all the same versions you have on the albums, and the differences are pretty noticeable. A great CD, get it, gummo.
Review by Jenssen