on 13 May 2007
1992 must have been an unusual time to be in the Cure. After having released "Disintegration", a record that would eventually come to define the band, and having had to fight to get that album released, the world finally succumbed to the charms of the band. American success, hit singles, big tours, etc. However, in between 1989 and 1992, the entire musical climate had shifted, and the world into which "Wish" was released was very different from the times when "Disintegration" had appeared.
Faced with the prospect of being challenged by grunge, baggy, and shoegazing, the three major genres of the day, the Cure retreated into their own little soundworld, releasing an album that didn't rely on current trends or sounds, and as such has stood the test of time somewhat better than some of the contemporary music of the time. By not being allied to a particular sound, it still sounds relevant.
Much more guitar dominated than previously, guitars swirl and crash in a more confident way than they have on any previous Cure album. Opener, 'Open' rides a churning bass-line with all manner of melodic, but slightly disjointed guitars. Robert Smith's lyrics detail a particularly boozy night out, and the consequences that might arise from it. There is something satisfying in the fact that the music possesses all kind of sonic touches, tones and textures, but the lyrics remain steadfastly earth-bound, dealing with a variety of subjects that frequently verge on the mundane. The music has it's head in the clouds, but the lyrics have their feet planted firmly on the ground.
There is also a sweeping romance to the album, with a number of the songs hinting at the simple pleasure of spending one satisfying day with a lover, doing nothing in particular, but praising the little things we all do. Once again, the music has a majestic sweep that echoes this theme, elevating the simple pleasures of the lyrics into high (melo)drama.
The major fault of the album is a general lack of focus. Unlike "Disintegration", which held together as a piece, every song sounding better in the context of the one before and after, "Wish" is more of a collection of songs which don't have too much in common, other than the points raised above. There is an unbalance of songs which are light to the point of being throwaway juxtaposed beside very heavy, emotionally taxing songs. One minute we're being told "Friday I'm in love", and being introduced to the pleasure of watching someone eat in the middle of the night, and then the next minute, relationships are ending, and people are committing suicide in front of us. It's a slightly schizophrenic approach, that doesn't always work, and as such, "Wish" often sounds better when certain songs are skipped, depending on the mood of the listener.
Some of the songs are also very long and drawn out, the majority of which average out at around the five and a half minute mark, but due to the emotionally draining nature of some of the songs, they often feel much longer. This is quite a draining album, and is not for the faint hearted.
On the other hand, it has some of the best lyrics Robert Smith ever wrote, observing and celebrating the minutiae of life and presenting it to us as something new, and the band are in top form. It's just that it's not a particularly good introduction to the band, and it is possible to imagine this being a far stronger album if a bit of preening had been done, trimming down the length of certain songs, re-sequencing, and possibly dropping one or two of the songs (is 'Wendy Time' really necessary? I don't think so). But still a very strong album and worth checking out.