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The end of The Cure= the beginning of The Cure...,
This review is from: Bloodflowers (CD) (Audio CD)
Bloodflowers was pretty much buried in the UK, who were much happier to focus on anti-talents Oasis returning with their dire Standing on the Shoulder of Giants LP at the time. The Cure had been deemed over around Britpop and the problematic Wild Mood Swings LP (which isn't that bad- tracks like Want, Jupiter Crash & Bare pointing towards this record). Smith & co seemed out of place and most of the poppy-tracks on Wild Mood Swings were either flawed or flops (or both- see the dire Gone). The positive part of Wild Mood Swings was the tour after, which eventually dropped WMS-tracks like Return and Round and Round and Round for older songs like Cold, Prayers for Rain, & Play for Today. The Cure were tapping into their gloomier past...
Bloodflowers was the result, completing a loose trilogy alongside Pornography (1982) & career-high Disintegration (1989)- all of which would be performed on the recent DVD Trilogy in Berlin. Bloodflowers was intended as the last Cure LP (I know Smith had said this several times before!), but with their commercial cache seemingly gone (even though the subsquent tour took in thousands) and their record contract ending, this seemed like it could be the end?
Smith wanted to return to the purer Cure-sound and had become enamoured with Mogwai and their classic Young Team (1997) debut. Out of This World is the gorgeous opener, the sublime guitar sound of Mogwai very much evident and a sense of end in sight, "One last time before the end...One last time before it's time to go again." Watching Me Fall continues the territory of 90s-outtake Burn and memorably featured in an episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer- at 11-minutes it is way too long, but shows that The Cure don't really care: no compromises here!
Bloodflowers then shifts into gorgeous acoustic-driven blissed-downers, the centre of the LP (Where the Birds...to There is No If)sounding like the end of Summer Nights, too much Proust etc. Songs like Maybe Someday and The Last Day of Summer easily ranking up there with prior Cure classics. The Loudest Sound is a bit of an experiment, the song is fine, though the production could have been better- the trip-hop vibe could be criticised. 39 is like a vaster Never Enough, a hypnotic riff and a hint of funk- The Cure decide to lock into a groove as Smith deals with hitting a significant birthday again (he was about to be 40, as he was about to be 30 with Disintegration)- "To keep the fire ablaze" eventually becoming "The fire is almost out...and there's nothing left to burn." The LP closes on the gorgeous title track- which represented this seemingly final offering from The Cure.
As returns to form go, Bloodflowers is up there with Bowie's Heathen, Lou Reed's The Blue Mask, Dylan's Time Out of Mind & Neil Young's Freedom. The tour that would follow would see The Cure focus on the dark stuff, taking in just a few pop songs- even playing a main-set in Hyde Park a few years ago packed with such joys as The Drowning Man, Pornography & Disintegration!
Since then, The Cure (like peer/foe Morrissey) have come back into vogue- being cited and covered by many contemporary acts (good & bad): Hell is for Heroes, Korn, Blink182 (who Smith has worked with), Tricky, Preston School of Industry, Jamie Cullum, Red Hot Chili Peppers (whose Californication is apparently influenced by doomy-oddity Carnage Visors from 1981!), Massive Attack, The Killers etc. Smith & co are in fine live form, have released a box-set of b-sides & outtakes, are in the process of reissuing their back-catalogue (expect a new version of Bloodflowers?) & are returning with an eponymous LP which has seen them get some press coverage in the UK! Shocking...
Bloodflowers is then the end of The Cure, but also the beginning of The Cure- so an LP that is well worth discovering in the meantime...