I would like to preface this review by saying the cover to The Cure’s new self-titled album is hideous. It’s hardly a step-up from Bloodflowers‘ poorly-pixelated, faux Goth picture, as it (intentionally) looks as if it were drawn by a child, which is a look that doesn’t serve Bobby Smith and Co. well. If they plan to keep on making albums, they’re going to have to hire a halfway decent graphic designer to do their next record sleeve.
Bad art notwithstanding, anyone who hasn’t given up on The Cure by this point will probably already have a copy of The Cure. But it’s not these folks to which I am speaking. It’s the other fans who have stuck by the band, fell in love with Wish, defended Wild Mood Swings out of loyalty and merely tolerated Bloodflowers, even though it appeared that the band had already reached their peak and were headed downhill.
To these fans, approaching The Cure requires a healthy amount of faith (no pun intended), as Wild Mood Swings and Bloodflowers weren’t much more than a pisstake and a jam session, respectively. But it seems as if the band finally buckled down and cut out the bullshit that kept their previous two releases from attaining a level of greatness on par with classics like Disintegration, Pornography and The Head on the Door. The songs, on the whole, are shorter than those on Bloodflowers and much easier to take in one sitting. Largely dominated by uptempo rockers, the album has its share of single-worthy tracks, but still bound by the characteristics of what makes a Cure song a Cure song.
First single “The End of The World” is catchy and benign, though “Taking Off” is far superior in terms of songwriting. “alt.end” is thoroughly dense and rocking. And “Anniversary” and “Labyrinth” contain flourishes of their darkest moments, as heard on albums like Faith and Pornography. When the band sticks to the darker material, they succeed, sounding as fresh and interesting as they did when they were still in their twenties.
But they’re not anymore, which makes some of the material lyrically weak. Some have called this The Cure’s angriest album in a while, which is a moderately accurate statement. The guitars are turned up to eleven and Robert even drops the f-bomb a few times. But it’s hard to believe he really has all that much to be upset about, considering he’s old, married and wealthy. A sweet, nostalgic side appears on “Before Three,” though the recurring refrain of “I’m so in love” weakens the song a bit.
Those who have spent their share of time with The Cure’s music should know by now that this isn’t a comeback. It’s been four years since Bloodflowers, which came out four years after Wild Mood Swings, which came out four years after Wish, which came out four years after Disintegration. By these standards, they’re right on time. It’s a long time to wait, however, and by this point many may have given up on the group. But The Cure have proven that they still got it, even if it took a while for it to resurface again.
The Cure – Kiss Me Kiss Me Kiss Me
The Cure – Wish
The Cure – The Head on the Door
Jeff Terich is the founder and editor of Treble. He's been writing about music for 20 years and has been published at American Songwriter, Bandcamp Daily, Reverb, Spin, Stereogum, uDiscoverMusic, VinylMePlease and some others that he's forgetting right now. He's still not tired of it.