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A Timeless Band, Ready For Reinvestigation,
This review is from: The Cure Greatest Hits (Audio CD)
The Cure: Greatest Hits. One of the least appreciated bands by mainstream, The Cure’s curious brand of perky/moribund pop wasn’t blissful enough to match the pop-by-numbers of Madonna or Bananarama, and not lyrically complex enough to enthuse fans of The Smiths. The Cure were a band that plowed their own furrow; unfortunately, this furrow found the wrong field and they were restricted to limited commercial success. Even flooding of the market with record after record (an astonishing eleven albums in ten years) failed to attract mass appeal, despite a succession of timeless pop singles. The Cure were so out of touch with the concurrent market that, during the acid house revolution of 1989, they were busy creating an concept album of near-prog soporific tunes of hopeless romanticism and doom. Such a ‘band out of time’ label has benefited The Cure greatly, as they have resurfaced as a cult act, especially in the U.S., where they were largely ignored first time around.
As you would expect with such a large output, The Cure’s gems were thinly spread, and thus The Greatest Hitsis a wise starting point for prospective fans. The collection begins with the title track from their 1979 debut, ‘Boys Don’t Cry’. The Cure began as a new wave band in the midst of Blondie and The Police, yet marked their quirky style in this record with a wistful tale of gender repression and separation. Their more purely pop tendencies can be seen elsewhere in ‘The Lovecats’ and later in ‘High’ and ‘Friday I’m In Love’ (both from 1992’s ultra-commercial Wish), but The Cure’s enduring beauty lies surely in their less accessible tracks, such as the chirpy yet despressive ‘Inbetween Days’ and the comic pastiche ‘Let’s Go To Bed’.
Lead singer Robert Smith has one of the most distinctive voices in music history: alternatively breathless and forthright, Smith’s wistful delivery strikes a yearning, aching bone. This is most clearly seen in the trio of singles taken from 1989’s Disintegration, a collection that South Park’s characters have termed the ‘best album ever’(!) In spite of this dubious recommendation, ‘Lovesong’ (the most played song on US radio in 1989) and ‘Pictures of You’ represent the pinnacle of Smith’s emotive outpourings. The deceptively-titled ‘Lullaby’, also from Disintegration, is a doom-laden tale of fear and impending demise, for ‘Spiderman is having me for dinner tonight.’ All semblance of comedy is lost in Smith’s melancholy whispers, gently laid against a wall of haunting strings and keyboard. Greatest Hits’ selections post-‘Friday I’m In Love’ leave much to be desired: the band’s appeal seems to disappear amongst slicker, modern production of ‘Wrong Number’ and ‘Just Say Yes’. From track one to fifteen, however, is timeless pop eclecticism at its highest, from the disturbing goth-initiating ‘A Forest’ to the gawky jazzy ‘Why Can’t I Be You?’ to the rockier impulses of ‘Never Enough’. One of the most intriguing bands of the last two decades, The Cure deserve their belated cult success. (8)