Customer Review

4.0 out of 5 stars An unexpected treat, with a little-known killer track tucked away, 24 Jun 2007
This review is from: Mixed Up (Audio CD)
I'm a fairly noncommittal fan of The Cure in the sense that I don't own every album, and their output has been patchy post 1992's Wish. However I can strongly recommend this prima facie "for the fans only" release. To cut to the chase, it has my favourite version of any track released ever, by anyone - the fantastic, and largely unknown Tree Mix of A Forest, a great single in it's own right, but here exalted to mythical status in my opinion. But, starting from the top, we begin with Lullaby, a perfectly acceptable slow-burn opener which does eventually grow and develop into a thing of beauty. Lovely melodic lines throughout and juducious production. Still, Smith's barely audible vocal seems to add little to what is effectively a gentle instrumental. By the way, it's not a dance mix, indeed most of these mixes aren't. Close To Me follows an auspicious start but I find little of interest in this track. The unavoidable and hypnotic bounce in the single version is absent on this mix. It's solid enough but it just doesn't work for me. Track three really ups the ante though and sets a new highwater mark. Fascination Street is dark, brooding, unsettling, and features some terrific audio design - an incredible undercurrent of bass, cascading guitar lines and a ostensibly simple but brilliant build-up that "splinters" out and creates a really filmic feel to the proceedings. Robert Smith sounds in fine form here and suitably echoey too. Track four, A Walk is another good track, arguably an improvement over the original but I feel it could have been brilliant in better hands. A nice electro feel and up-tempo but it doesn't cut it straight after Fascination Street. Lovesong is an oddity here; it sounds nothing like a remix, but because the song itself is one of their best, it doesn't really matter too much. It also serves a a contrast to what in many people's opinion, including myself, is the real highlight of this album - the Tree Mix of A Forest. To say this track bristles with energy, is incredibly filmic and lush, and without a hair out of place is to be somewhat understated. It's just fantastic and I honestly put it in the same box as Blue Monday or the Pump Mix of Depeche Mode's Personal Jesus -seven minutes of electronic nirvana. The opening use of the electronic stabs then added to by layer upon layer of carefully proportioned instrumentation is in some ways a traditional remix technique but here it just seems the remixer worked them all beautifully together. There's no wasted middle section, no drawn out pointless filler material, this track needs to pulsate from start to end and it does magnificently. Always ambient and atmospheric, with melodies shooting back and forth, it's a real alternative to the outstanding original version. I defy anyone to have not been affected in some way by the time Smith is singing "again and again" for what seems an eternity. The way the brooding background lifts this vocal section and the guitars spill out afterwards has sent shivers down my spine for the last 17 years. I think it's probably remained largely invisible because purer, more indie-fied devotees of The Cure would possibly shun it for being too electronic. The fact that it's 236 times better than Never Enough seems to escape them. Moving on to Pictures Of You, a likeable twist on the base version. Once again we have a mix replete with nice refrains and beautiful use of showery glistening samples. Smith sounds pretty good again too. Hot Hot Hot!!! is not one of my favourite Cure tracks but it's got a nice bassline and a much more effective groove than Close To Me for example. The Caterpillar takes us to nine on the tracklisting and sounds fairly experimental and fun. It doesn't really grab you but it's nicely spacious and soft in feel and deserves a few plays. Inbetween Days is a significant departure from the single version. I'd argue the single version is one of the best singles from any band in the last 30 years personally, but this remix is OK to good, is sturdy enough, but once again, as for so many remixes, it loses much of that 7" energy and compactness. But at three and half minutes it briefly does something interesting I might add and fizzes up a bit. Right at the last we have Never Enough, already mentioned. I don't dislike it intensely, but it sounds a bit jumbled and something Jimi Hendrix would have done a better job of. It's not really my style and it's not electro. Overall, this album has more than enough (no pun intended) charm and appeal for regular Cure fans and electro / dance bods anywhere. Just give A Forest a few listens, an absolute old skool barnstormer.
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Location: Sheffield, United Kingdom

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