on 27 October 2008
If you happen to be a fan of either the poppier or more guitar-driven side of The Cure (as typified by The Head On The Door & Wish respectively), then you will find plenty on 4:13 Dream to enjoy. The four singles that preceded this release (The Only One, Freakshow, Sleep When I'm Dead & The Perfect Boy) should give you a good idea of what to expect from a pop perspective. Throw in a few rockier moments (such as Switch, The Scream & It's Over) & you have a well balanced mix of melodic, catchy tunes side by side with scratchy, distorted riffs.
If on the other hand you prefer the darker, broodier material (such as is prevalent on Pornography, Disintegration & Bloodflowers) then there will be less here to get excited about, with the exception of perhaps Underneath The Stars, the fabulous soundscape which opens proceedings. However, Robert has hinted at the possibility of releasing a companion album that contains the darker takes from these sessions before his 50th birthday (April 2009). So you may consider hanging on for that...
Personally, I have enjoyed every aspect of the band's output from Three Imaginary Boys through to The Cure & everything in between, & it's this sheer breadth & variety that keeps me coming back again & again (& again etc). I cannot honestly think of another band that has provided such a consistent level of high quality music for over 30 years whilst still remaining both relevant & inspirational in today's environment.
After 31 years, 10 lineups, and about 26 albums (including live and compilation releases), The Cure release their latest studio album. Originally planned as an expansive double, "4:13 Dream" is the first part of a whole : the first, and more upbeat, record. With 20 songs not used from the album sessions, the intention is to release a second album of more introspective material in the near future. In that respect then, "4:13 Dream" resembles a 'classic' Cure album of yore, made of upbeat pop songs alongside punctuations of light and shade.
There's songs here as positive as "Just Like Heaven" - singles "The Only One", "Freakshow", "Sleep When I'm Dead" and "The Perfect Boy" all roll along with that bittersweet brand of melancholy and optimisim that makes The Cure unique. And There's nothing as unstoppably bleak as "The Same Deep Water As You" or "The Funeral Party". On the other hand, some songs sound like Cure-by-numbers : the floating arpeggios of "This, Here And Now With You" sound like an out-take from the underappreciated early 90's "Wish", and "Underneath The Stars" is a large scope opener of the type that could have come from any Cure album of the past two decades. Not that this is in any way a bad thing, as it demonstrates the consistency of the band - utilising drama and tempo to evoke and invoke.
Shorn of the keyboard sweeps that gave the band a distinctive epic sound, the four piece Cure have replaced these with the more than able Porl Thompson whose guitar skills see him replicating effortlessly the huge vistas of the bands previous vision. Many were skeptical that The Cure could maintain their sound when reduced to a four piece, but this transition is barely noticed through judicious use of Porl's large sonic palette. His guitar work, which is distinctive, shows that his role in the band is integral and that he is an unsung power in the band and live he manages to replicate guitar, keyboard parts, and other instrumentation through a breathtaking selection of effects pedals. Around Porl's work, the rhythms of Simon Gallup and Jason Cooper whip up a sonic storm. Unlike previous Cure records (with rare exceptions such as "Fascination Street"), Gallup has stepped to the fore with his work, and the basslines sound like a lead instrument instead of the supporting cast : "It's Over" moves on a remorseless bassline that underpins the rest of the song to a fierce, locked groove as Smith intones the platitudes of finality and Porl creates a wave of guitar sound that drowns subtlety. As an album closer, it's as effective as 1992's "End" though twice as fast and half as long.
The bands lineup now contains, as it has for a long time, a longstanding but evolving lineage of inception. And make no mistake, The Cure are no revolving door of salaried jobbers, but a cohesive artistic entity with their own individual identities. Lead by Robert Smith (and with no current member with less than 13 years in the band, and a total of 86 years in The Cure between them, a shocking figure), this new lineup have created an album the equal of almost any previous Cure album ; neither a definitive artistic statement nor an obvious clunker (as "The Top" was).
In many way, "4:13" reminds me of the "Wish" album more than anything else the band have done - an eclectic selection of guitar-heavy pop with a distinctly individual edge that presents both light and shade. If you are a fan of The Cure, then "4:13 Dream" is a fine addition to the canon, a snapshot of the band as they are, a reflection of the bands fiercer, more vital end-days phase and a worthy listen. Not back from the dead, but back on a new and interesting journey.
on 29 October 2008
I approached the new Cure album with a few worries. Why was it getting such negative press? What's wrong with it? Still, I bought it and I'm not dissapointed. This is exactly what it says it is on the cover. A Cure album!! What was everyone expecting after 30 years? A compilation of well thought out Chris De Burgh covers produced by Mark Ronson and Rick Rubin?
Please Cure fans, make up your own mind on this. Yes, you can hear some trademark Cure moments as you listen but by no means is this a rehash or repeat of old material. It's not the best album they've ever done but by no means is it the worst. Enjoy.
on 22 October 2008
Well, I tried to stay away from the Internet until the album official release, but the curiosity got the better out of me... The only excuse is that I'm going to buy the CD anyway (all 4 singles & Hypnagogic States EP are already on my book shelf, thanks to Amazon.co.uk and German S&M) =)
What can I say? "4:13 Dream" gets better with every listen. Interesting, sometimes heart-wrenching lyrics, the music you can't get out of your head... Awesome guitar and bass parts, all kinds of sounds that make you wonder, experimental, unusual vocals (You can argue with Robert's choices on that matter as long as you want to - it wouldn't change the fact that he really thought over all the nuances...). What else can you wish for?
But I have to warn you - "4:13 Dream" is not as "accessible" as some people might think. It seems to be pretty upbeat - mostly, but the lyrics are not (with some exception, of course), Robert managed to wrap a serious, sad, honest words (he sounds like it all is heartfelt) into bright, feathery melody (The Reasons Why, The Hungry Ghost). This kind of album will not be the love at first sight - it makes you listen attentively and think hard, only then you will really HEAR it.
When I saw the track-list for the first time, I was worried it wouldn't work, making "4:13 dream" a compilation of the new material instead of a proper album. I was wrong. The track-list is just the way it should be, all the singles fitted perfectly. The record might not be smooth... still it is cohesive, not as monolithic as Bloodflowers, but very solid nevertheless. The shortest 52+ minutes of my life. And after the album ends, you want to play it again. Immediately.
I was surprised that some people who hated "the Cure 2004" liked this record, because it's like a balance between Wild Mood Swings complicated landscapes and rawness of the self-titled. The traces of Wish and HOTD are evident here, too. Still it sounds fresh.
Favourite tracks: UTS (of course! It's mind-blowing and ethereal...), The Reasons Why (Rome live version was softer but I got over it quickly enough - those who refused to listen to 4:13 Dream live before studio release were right - don't let the concert to ruin your experience, this piece is really brilliant), Sirensong (the most romantic 2 minutes 22 seconds on this record), The Hungry Ghost (I love the chorus and don't understand what the negative fuss is all about), Switch ("And I'm tired of being alone with myself/ And I'm tired of being with anyone else" - one of the best lyrics ever), This-Here-And-Now-With-You (The Rome show doesn't do any justice to this wonderful song, believe me!), Sleep When I'm Dead (clearer and dreamier than mix 13), Scream (Lost + Forever = masterpiece).
Or should I say "most favourite"? No filler for me here. Skip button goes to Hell...!
Classic? Experimental? One step forward? Back to roots? I don't know but I absolutely love it...
on 27 October 2008
Now I admit I'm a big fan of the Cure. I've seen them live many times and own album they've released. Having said that I'm not blind to the fact that the last couple of CD's (Bloodflowers/The Cure) were only OK at best and frankly so dark and down they didn't warrant repeated listens. 4:13 dream changes all that. The Cure - Well Robert Smith - seems to have got his/their mojo back. He sound's like he's enjoying himself again.
There is a good variety of tracks on 4:13. From almost pop of the singles released to the screaming guitar-god ROCK of The Reason Why. Its overall effect is a well rounded classic Cure album that deserves attention from both existing fans and a new audience (who deserve more like this and less of the production line Emo/Goth garbage so prevalent out there)
on 1 October 2014
Good but not great.
Too much overblown guitar and not enough concentration on the song quality.
Definetly one of the weakest Cure albums, hopefully the imminent re-imagining double album 4:26 Scream will redress the balance.
One for the fans alone unfortunately.
on 20 November 2008
After following The Cure since their first album, sadly, I feel it is time for a parting of the ways. Everything that made most of the previous Cure albums so rewarding has sadly evaporated with this muddled effort.
I actually found their previous album to be up there with the best, but this is mostly dreadful. There are several reasons for this, but the abysmal production kills it before it even gets underway. It is totally flat and cluttered, with the reed thin vocals being mostly buried beneath a disorganised jumble of scattergun playing. The drummer is the main culprit, seemingly attempting to play with drum sticks, a shuffle beat on almost every track that would normally be more appropriate to skiffle club brushwork.
Gone are the economical arrangements that made most previous songs so effective and in their place is a weak collection of songs, where everyone seems to pile in with no thought or direction. It is telling that The Only One sounds infinitely better in the live version on the band's website to the version on the album. This is not new though and Smith must take much of the blame. Think back to previous live versions such as Jupiter Crash or Wendy Time. The first of these in particular was moving when played live in a stripped down form, but almost reduced to a dirge on the album.
The songs on 4:13 are poor as well, with Freakshow surely being one of the weakest songs The Cure have ever recorded. This must be the only Cure album that I have given up on after a second play. Even Wild Mood Swings had three strong songs, but this is an album from a band that has truly lost its way.
The remedy? Sack the drummer and don't let Smith anywhere near the mixing desk for any future recordings.
on 5 November 2008
I've a recording of a TV interview that Robert Smith gave in 1984. In it Richard Skinner responds to Smith's assertion that he will shortly quit the music business. "How old are you?" asks Skinner. "25" Smith responds saying that he's surely too old to carry on with this pop music malarkey. The Cure were in what might be called their first flush of genuine big time success. Surely it would be crazy to stop now?
Luckily The Cure didn't stop and in 1984 they were nowhere near their peak. On Smith went, conquering new territories and consolidating his frankly unique talents. It's fair to say that The Cure were a seminal band. Such was their originality and the influence they had on bands that were to follow.
Further hints or statements to quit were to follow but as political parties rose and fell and styles and fashions changed The Cure have remained. Constant as The Queen and just as fashionless.
So here we are in 2008 and The Cure have become a solid feature in the landscape of peoples minds. Smith looks uncannily the same. His words in interviews still intrigue even after all this time.
But what of the music? Well the song remains the same and seems to be almost as committed as always. But we've heard these songs before. Lyrically and musically they follow the scheme set out in years gone by. Fierce lovers of The Cure will find all in place but is that enough?
I came across a rare recording of The Cure playing live in Belgium in 1981. In it I heard a good band on their way to achieving greatness. It's a wonderful recording. Smith, Gallup and Tolhurst are in teriffic form. The spark was undoubtably there and there's no denying the excitement in the small audience.
But that old recording is so much better than this new album. 4:13 Dream is just a bit dead in the middle. It wearily treads the same old path set in years gone by. It's still worthwhile but only for fans who desire all things 'Cure' forever and ever.
And so The Cure continue. And for Smith (now 49), It's never enough. It's never enough. It's never enough.
on 21 October 2008
I love this album ~ my faves are Underneath The Stars (absolute classic Cure), Sirensong, The Screeeeaaaaaam and It's Over. The rest are growers ~ Switch is very ballsy and progressive, Hungry Ghost has a great hook and Reasons Why wears its heart firmly on its sleeve. It is almost like the non-reliance on keyboards has bizarrely lead to the band creating a more melodic, tuneful album than the 2004 effort.
The 4 singles make more sense in the context of the album too ~ and the album mixes are especially good, really fell in love with Sleep When I'm Dead this time around. I'm so excited by the prospect of hearing a few of these new tracks live... sometime... somewhere...
And if Robert Smith makes good on his tease about a 'dark' companion album then these 13 songs could blend with the darker offering to create some of the finest Cure moments since (for me) 1992.
Lovely to have them back.
on 7 February 2009
Let me just say the 4 star rating was from my husband and son - both fans.
The view I'd like to present is from someone who would not actively choose to listen to them (although I like Just Like Heaven) but happened to walk in the room when UTS was playing. From the instrumental I thought it may have been Tears for Fears, so I stayed and by the end of the track had fallen in love with it. It has made my top 10 IPod tunes. The rest of the album is not really me but I have been assured it is good by these with more experience (and some may say taste!). So even if you are not a fan - bite the bullit and have a listen.
PS I've also never been tempted to review a CD before so it really did make an impact!