Various Artists
Tributo a The Cure - por que no puedo ser tú
(WEA Latina 28265)

A rock en español tribute to The Cure? Makes more sense than you'd think, and undoubtedly Robert Smith was just tickled pink when he heard about this one. It's a far better disc than a bunch of American bands could have made, and the songs are all reimagined pretty deeply.

The track selection is a mixture of the expected ("Just Like Heaven," "Why Can't I Be You," "Lovesong," "In Between Days"), the less expected ("If Only Tonight We Could Sleep," "10:15 Saturday Night," "The Blood") and the quite unexpected ("Apart," "M"), making not only for a well-rounded tribute record, but a great album in its own right.

I hadn't heard any of these artists before picking this disc up, but there's really not a clunker in the bunch. The productions are generally slicked-up pop treatments of the originals, with lots of beatbox drum loops, female voices, and acoustic guitars.

Si-se's "Como el Cielo" ("Just Like Heaven") is the definite winner (an additional remix of the track is tacked on to the end of the disc), taking a weird, jerky little tack, with a female vocalist singing the verses in Spanish and the choruses in English. Quite nice. "Entre Dias" ("In Between Days") by Man Ray is in in a similar vein, also featuring a female singer – the streamlined production is exciting and could probably be a substantial American hit if it were in English. You know Top 40 radio: English spoken here!

"10:15 Sabado a la Noche" by Maria Fatal offers up a bit punkier approach to the original, kind of how you'd picture the Pixies doing it circa Bossanova. Acida's "Separado" ("Apart") is slinky and atmospheric, almost unrecognizable from the original, but extraordinarily well done. "Viernes Voy Por Ti" ("Friday I'm in Love") by Icaro Azul sounds something like a cross between Berlin and Shakira, another one that is richly revamped to great success.

A couple of the less successful tracks are Volumen Cero's "Cancion de Amor" which takes the song a lot slower than the original, sort of how The Church might have done it, and "Gatos de Amor" ("Love Cats") by Cromafactor/Janice is even kookier than the original; it's done perhaps a bit more aggressively than it needs to be. Sounds very Siouxsie-esque.

"El Bosque" ("A Forest") by Estados Alterados is a bit static, coming off more like a remix than anything else. In fact, the whole project seems to take the Cure remix album Mixed Up as its launching pad, rather than any more "typical" Cure album.

Most tribute records ultimately require some cautious track-skipping for solid enjoyment; this is one that I can honestly say I listen to all the way through quite a bit. Lots of standouts, nothing ill-conceived, and moreover, it flows like an album as opposed to an assortment of cover tracks from disparate artists. The stylistic range is broad, but the disc is paced expertly and is just a cool listening experience.

It's great to see The Cure given a tribute that isn't very faithful, because it makes a strong argument for Robert Smith's songwriting, which is quite neglectednowadays, with the band past its point of being in vogue. The Cure, as dismissable as they seem to be, will be borne out as a really cool band in the end.

You know you're doing something right when a group of foreign-language artists cover your material and obviously "get" you enough to overhaul your songs. For Cure fans, this is a must – and non-diehards also should check it out. It may not depress you like you like, but everyone can use a groove, and this one tiene mucho groovo, señor.

Review by Bryna Vaggina