on 30 June 2004
Introducing new material to fans and critics alike poses inevitable problems for the Cure, over a quarter of a century into their vast career. Comparisons between new songs and the recurring nostalgic benchmarks of greatness embodied in established and accepted classics will inevitably be made (and I'll be making them again here). And through a combination of media hype and the band's recent re-entry into the arena of credibility (after namechecks from, amongst others, Interpol and the Rapture) the rumour is that 'The Cure' represents the group's best work since the heady days of 'Disintegration'. So this album's got a lot to live up to. And you might be left wanting if you're expecting the material that makes up 'The Cure' to reach the majestic heights of, say, the breathtaking 'Faith', 'Catch' or 'Plainsong' (to name but three). It doesn't. However I think this process of comparison is a tad unfair and unproductive because 'The Cure' is undoubtedly the freshest and most pleasing material from the band in over ten years.
Whatever the nostalgics and harsher critics may tell you, there is plenty of evidence here to illustrate just what a good offering 'The Cure' actually is. The album initiates a re-captured confidence from the start through the slowly aggressive opener 'Lost' and the eastern groove of the distorted 'Labyrinth' which follows. Similarly, the gorgeous and dreamlike 'Truth Goodness and Beauty', and the unravelling menace of 'The Promise', wouldn't be out of place on 'Wish', the Cure's last truly decent LP.
To a large extent this new found vitality is down to co-producer (with Robert Smith) Ross Robinson who got the band to play these songs live and collectively in the studio - giving each track a real looseness and edgy spontaniety never achieved before, separating them from the lifeless and stodgy songs that made up the worst of 'Wild Mood Swings' and 'Bloodflowers'.
Other highs can be found in 'Anniversary' - whose opening re-calls Joy Division's 'Decades' and returns the band to the 'Faith' era, the charming single 'The End of the World', and 'alt.end' which simultaneously manages to re-visit 'In Your House' while also bizarrely bringing to mind the Happy Monday's 'Kinky Afro'. Trust me, this is a good thing and marks the track out as the sensible choice for a second single (far better than the forced and dull 'Taking Off' which tries to match 'Just Like Heaven' but falls short). And stunning closing track 'Going Nowhere' provides a brief but moving conclusion to proceedings.
There are flaws with 'The Cure' - such as Robert Smith's occasionally irritating and exaggerated shriek which begins to grate on otherwise enjoyable tracks such as 'Before Three'. Also, lyrically 'The Cure' offers nothing exciting or particularly affecting aside from the angry anti-racist monlogue that engulfes the scruffy but impressive 'Us or Them'.
It's obvious we're not dealing with the next 'Distintegration' here, or even the next 'Head on the Door' come to that. But, ignoring the hype, 'The Cure' restores the quality that's been missing in the band's output over the last decade. When you buy this album (which I urge you to do) enjoy and celebrate 'The Cure' for what it is - a welcome return to form from a truly great band.
on 15 May 2008
I had wrote after a few weeks of release:
I have been a fan of the cure since the early 1980's and have everything they have done. When I heard they had recorded a new album, I bought it on release, without having heard it. I was surprised at the sound on first listen as it was so removed from the cure sound. They were obviously trying a different approach and looking to be still relevant - a good thing??. I often think the best music does not hit you on the first listen and so kept going back to it. No matter how many times I picked this album up though it still failed to impress any good qualities on me. I can't help feeling they should give up the day job, if this is the best they can come up with. Simply appalling.
I've gone back to this album a few times since and have found something more and more interesting on each listen. It's no way near classic cure and maybe as some have said, that's the whole point.
If you like the Cure you should own this, but it shouldn't be a starting point. It should possibly be the last one you buy if you are looking to have the whole collection.
First song is - Lost- and it is still awful - I can't get away with it. Other songs unvail there depth and beauty in time.
on 1 July 2004
Music critics that state this is the best Cure album in years, are sadly mistaken, as it is clearly inferior to Bloodflowers. Those who make swipes at that album, do not truly understand Robert Smith or the Cure. Hardcore fans understand just how important the Bloodflowers album is. This new album is far less important, though perhaps more immediate. It may have greater vitality, greater energy and sharpness, but it lacks the soul and melancholy of Bloodflowers, which were also the two key elements of the insurpassable Distintegration. It's important to underline the harshness and violence present on the new album, the harshest and most violent since Pornography. There is sadly very little room for beauty and melancholy on this album, which is its main failing. It does have certain other virtues though. The first three tracks - Lost, Labyrinth and Before Three - are a pretty stunning opening to the album, and establish the visceral nature of the content. These three gems are followed by two decent efforts, Truth Goodness And Beauty and The End Of The World, then a melancholic song, Anniversary, which could have been much better, if Robert had come up with a memorable melody, instead of a mediocre one. This is followed by an angry assault of a song, Us or Them, which isn't completely convincing in its rage, and is too reminiscent of The Kiss and Shiver and Shake. The album then kind of loses it focus with some attempts at hard-edged pop songs, which aren't bad, but lack the intensity of the opening salvo. It only regains its focus with the long and powerful The Promise, which is certainly one of the main highlights of the album. The closer, Going Nowhere, features Robert's familiar weariness, but it doesn't have the beauty of his best efforts. It's not appropriate to compare it with Homesick or Untitled; it's not in the same league. And to compare this album with Disintegration is very misleading, as it has almost nothing in common with that album. It is more accurate to imagine a slightly uncomfortable hybrid of Pornography and Head On The Door. Dark howls of anguish set off by occasional pop touches. I will give some credit to the producer, even if he has been involved with such wretched nu-metal acts. The sound balances rawness and polish to good effect. Overall, I found the album unfulfilling. Just wish there was space for the familiar chiming Cure guitar lines and elegiac piano lines. It's a shame that they, along with strings, are all but absent from the rough rock arrangements. Most long-term Cure fans will appreciate the vitality and edge present in some of the music, but at the same time, they will mourn the absence of Robert's ravishing poetic melancholy, which is conspicuous by its absence.
on 9 August 2004
Convention dictates that any new Cure album is immediately measured up against their back catalogue. Reviews complain that it's not like "Disintegration", that it's not as good as "Pornography", that it falls short of "Seventeen Seconds".
It's as if The Cure are not allowed to do anything new.
When the fans of such a historically ground-breaking, awkward, always-changing and ever-challenging band are so resolutely backward-looking, it's a confusing state of affairs. Why does "The Cure" have to be like any other of their albums? Even Smith perhaps acknowledges this with his wry line "you promised me another wish," as he plunders his own lyrical back-catalogue throughout the album.
Each Cure album has its place in their exceptional, multi-decade catalogue, each one merely representing another step in the evolution of this multi-talented, shape-shifting band. The only true constant for The Cure is the band's musical genius and its strong-headed and uncompromising style, under Robert Smith's domineering leadership.
Well, with Smith now in his 40's and having lost count of how many times Smith has claimed the Cure were finished, I was nervous of what this album might be like. Would it be a has-been's album? Would it be "Cure-by-numbers"? Would it sound like the band just going through the motions? Had they now become a fully-fledged rock dinosaur?
Answer: not a chance. Not a flipping chance.
Smith has never sounded SO angry, SO furious as on this latest release. Whereas in previous Cures, the angst always had a self-immolating edge, this time it's directed outwards. The tighter social mood of 2004 sees Smith with plenty to angst about. "The Cure", then, is Smith holding a mirror up to the world. There's an edge, a roar and a snarl to Smith's phlegmatic voice that is at times surprisingly Pixies-esque, and Smith uses vocal tones that he more commonly employs on stage.
The time since 2000 has produced a newly-muscular Cure, a rejuvenated, primal, kick-ass Cure the like of which few people knew existed. The raw, pared-down production still incorporates enough of the Cure-patented "Ocean of Sound™" with flangers, reverb, Bass Six and string washes stacked on top of each other, but never has a Cure album also managed to have so much distortion and such deep studio effects yet such close, edgy production. Bass, guitar and even voice alike are coated with rich, thick, druggy distortion.
No longer the angst of a teen-to-twenty-something (see "Three Imaginary Boys" to "Pornography" for that) "The Cure" is the sound of a grown man's processed and reasoned rage, his incomprehension at what us humans are doing to each other. Familiar themes of desire, jealousy, devotion and self-doubt resurface and the words are as dense, intensely personal and as opaque as ever. Smith's intricate, sometimes jeering and always emotionally-charged lines leave us in no doubt that he's really put his back into the words. This is the real thing, this is super-league Cure material - and yet, 20 years after I first discovered them, I'm still largely none the wiser as to what most of them are about...
From the first ambient noises on the opening "Lost", we know that something menacing is brewing; this is no middle-age out-to-pasture The-Cure-need-some-money album. It closes sounding as if "Nowhere"-era Ride had dropped a few extra effects boxes round.
"Labyrinth" has gigantic gigantic squalls of Hendrix wah-wah psych-guitar. Sounds like The Cure covering Curve covering The Cure.
"Before Three" could almost be a slowed-down Pixies song, were it not for the exquisite splash-and-crash tom-tom-heavy drumming and Smith's trademark caterwauling. Classic driving guitar Cure pop.
"Truth Goodness and Beauty" provides a pretty interlude, a more typical "Ocean of Sound™" Cure song that sounds like they borrowed Sonic Youth's guitars.
"End of the World" brings Dinosaur Jr. and Green Day to mind, but also Ride's fabulous "Play" EP. I spotted a rash of teenagers wearing "Boys Don't Cry" T-Shirts recently, and I can only assume this single has something to do with it.
"Anniversary" is a deep dreamy, druggy epic - a mash-up between Curve's wonderful album "Gift" and huge canyons of Sasha-style trance sounds. Sasha could drop a house version of this at 4am at Fabric.
"Us Or Them" is Smith's moment of fury: the issue of religious hatred has voice ROARING like this never before. A future live classic.
"alt.end" starts like Pixies covering "In Your House" from "Seventeen Seconds", with "Loveless"-era My Bloody Valentine and Joey Santiago providing super-duper squealing guitar overlays.
"I Don't Know What's Going On" and "Taking Off" are both conventional, ageless Cure power-pop and reignite the decades-old debate about whether New Order or The Cure invented THAT lead guitar sound first.
"Never" is a divisive track. They've always done the power-guitar thing, from early days at The Rocket in Crawley; they're just not known for it. Personally I think this is a highlight.
"Promise" is a wonderful psychedelic swamp of of patent Cure "Strangled Cat Guitar™", with buckets of noise, percussion and blissed-out wah-wah guitar. Weighing in at over 10 minutes, it finishes off the job started by "Labyrinth".
"Going Nowhere" closes in classic style, with Smith in conciliatory mood, a meandering guitar and smouldering piano line over soft acoustic and gentle drums. A future Café del Mar classic.
If you need a comparison to other Cure albums - I can't do it. This is a club-class Cure album in its own right. I'd prefer to point to the abundant, archetypal Cure sounds and the healthy cast of influences that can be heard. Jimi Hendrix, Pixies, Sonic Youth, Ride and others can all be heard in the guitar work, and drumming that Budgie of Siouxsie & The Banshees would be proud of is in evidence throughout, but this is a blue-blooded Cure album of the very purest pedigree.
Were the band called something other than The Cure, "The Cure" would still be a worthy title for this record.
Robert, you HAVE found yourself: THIS IS WHAT WE NEED YOU FOR.
on 28 June 2004
There's little meager words could say for this album, very little indeed.
A change of pace it could be said. Another sound explored, experimented with. Quite Diffrent from it's predecessors, but no less epic than the darkest corners of 'Blood Flowers' or 'Disintegration'.
Do yourself a favor and give it a try. You need something this beautiful in your life.
on 10 July 2004
I want to give this four and a half but i cant so ill just give it five.
There are lots of arguments out there as to why this isnt a good album, but one that seems to stand out for me is that "it doesnt sound like the cure", thats reasonable but honestly if they had done another album that sounds just like the cure 15 or twenty years ago i would have hated it. The purpose of Bloodflowers and Join the Dots was to tie up all the loose ends and leave the door open for new things and Robert certainly delivers. The passion on this album is unlike any cure album before, each of them have passion in their own way but not like this. Roberts voice is the best its been in years and the band sounds great. The first five tracks are wonderful and my only complaint about Us or Them is that robert has obviously stolen a riff from himself but this incarnation of Watching Me Fall sounds much more refreshing. After Us or Them is a section of your typical qwirky Cure pop. I Don't Know Whats Going On is an excellent if a bit repitative number. Taking Off is reminicent of Just Like Heaven and features a nice piano part like Cut Here. Never is an intersting song, one could have mixed thoughts on it, this is the only track on the ablum that sounds like The cure playing like bands who want to be the cure if you understand what i'm saying. The album finishes off with The Promise, this is probably the best track on the album along with Lost the anthematic opener. Rober himself has said he wrote this after performing The Kiss at the Trilogy shows and it shows, like The Kiss this track is very intense and features some of Roberts best guitar playing.
I would reccomend the vinyl or an import version of the cd because the tracks Going Nowhere, Truth Goodnes and Beauty, Fake, and This Morning truly make this album a classic. Luckily the Cure have been playing Going Nowhere in the European pre curiosa tour.
on 8 October 2011
Somewhat late in the day, but prompted by successfully getting tickets for the forthcoming London Reflections concert in November, I wanted to just put down, for the record, that in my view this record is a superb Cure album and easily their best work since 'Wish' (and certainly better than '4.13 Dream').
Overall, I am one of those who prefers the electicism of the band's output, and particularly when it is manifest on one album (which is why I prefer 'Kiss me, Kiss me, Kiss me' to 'Disintegration') and the variety of music on this record is to my mind the hallmark of the band.
In terms of production, sound and Robert's vocal performance, no other Cure album betters it and 'alt.end' is one of the best Cure tracks ever.
Having seen the Cure at different stages in their career right from their first album, I hope that history will highlight the sheer versatility of their repertoire. I expect, looking back, that musicologists will look back very kindly on the genius of Smith and his various associates.
on 29 June 2004
The first 5 songs are really brilliant, Bob's vocals are really high in the mix and he sounds fantastic. "Lost" and "Before Three" especially. A great start!
"Us or Them" is next and it really grates on the first few listens, Bob has never sounded so... angry. It almost feels like he's faking it, but it has really grown on me. I'm glad about that, as there has never been a Cure song that I thought I hated and I've been a fan for 20 years.
A few of pop songs follow to lighten the mood and are typical Cure fare. "Never" is very un-Cure - like the band are covering Pearl Jam or something. It's okay... a grower?
"The Promise" is a dirge that they have written many times before and it's thrillingly addictive and much more powerful for being played live in the studio. "You promised me another wish" he sings. The album definitely has a sonic connection to the "Wish" album as well as lyrically, with Bob's regular contradictory stance on his personal and musical endeavours and his muse.
The coda of "Going Nowhere" is lovely if all too fleeting; echoes of "Untitled" and "Homesick" in a valediction filled with ennui but again stating the opposite, "I'm going nowhere."
After the muted critical and public responses to "Wild Mood Swings" and "Bloodflowers", this self-titled effort is a veritable phoenix from the flames.
on 25 May 2015
This is The Cure record I like the least too, but it has a couple of songs that I absolutely love :Taking off and Going nowhere are up to the standard of the best Robert Smith, Anniversary and End of the world are not too bad neither.....all the rest is probably better to pretend it doesn't exist.....
I have to say I had written the Cure off as an ex-band - and totally by surprise they come out with this stormer. It's definitely the Cure (God love them) but with just enough of a contemporary production to make this a step forward, not a wallow in nostalgia. And Smith is at his best on tracks like Lost and End of the World.