My friend Adam has an epic message thread on facebook – he’s revealing a music list to a few of his friends. You have to know Adam to understand about the lists. Seriously, when I read High Fidelity, it was like I was reading about Adam, with the lists. Anyway, I was about to start writing a comment on facebook to our friend Dan who had said that there are certain people in music who, in their later years now, he just pretends they are different people than their younger selves, because it’s easier to do that than reconcile the brilliance of their youth to what they put out now. He mentioned Sinead O’Connor, Michael Stipe, and Robert Smith, and I can sort of understand why. I asked what his particular beef was with Smith and he told me:
Sure, stuff like “Why Can’t I Be You?” was fun but it felt like by the time they got to “Friday I’m In Love” it’s all they were doing. To be fair, I was paying less attention but I even listened to that recent album called “the Cure” and it just sounded static and underwhelming. That said, give me a few songs to really listen to and I’ll seek em out and try again. I owe them that. And live, they still deliver. I’ll give them that.
First off, you stopped too soon. I know, we all were there. Wish had some great songs, but it was no Disintegration. You heard songs like “Friday I’m In Love” and “High” and thought “Bob’s too happy.” Even a song like “A Letter to Elise,” as sad as the words are, it’s still a pop song, right? There was a lot of excess on Wish.
Which reminds me, I love the toy piano action on the “Unplugged” version of “Letter”:
After Wish, there was a 4-year break. Bob ends Wish with “End,” containing lyrics like “I think I’ve reached that point/where giving in and going on/are both the same dead end to me…Please stop loving me/I am none of these things.” Who does this guy think he is, Eddie Vedder?
Then comes Wild Mood Swings, a record whose first single starts with…a trumpet? “The 13th” was an odd jaunt into latin rhythms, and not in a “good Cure” way, like the power flamenco of “The Blood” from The Head On the Door. It was just strange, and then that BIG “It feels GOOD!/Do it to me” chorus. Honestly, I like “The 13th” but I never cared much for the other “hit” off this record, “Mint Car.”
The album was released, though, and you find there’s much more to the record. The impassioned leadoff song “Want” finds our hero in a reflective mood, speaking plainly to overconsumption, not obliquely about relationships as it seems he was doing for a while.
I’m always wanting more
Anything I haven’t got/
Everything/I want it all
I just can’t stop
Drink more dreams more bed more drugs
More lust more lies more head more love
More fear more fun more pain more flesh
More stars more smiles more fame more sex
But however hard I want
I know deep down inside
I’ll never really get more hope
Or any more time
So, instead of blaming the fans like he did at the end of Wish, he’s now seeing the perils of the road of excess. But songs like “Return,” there’s a return to said excess: “Candlelight/Coconut ice…Stolichnaya/Banco de Gaia“, and it’s very specific about him being tied up at 3am in PVC.
The *great* songs on this record for me, though, are:
- “Want,” as mentioned above.
- “Strange Attraction” – a straighforward story about him going to meet a girl who has sent him a flipbook of butterflies. Great story, GREAT ending.
- “Jupiter Crash” – about two lovers watching comet Shoemaker-Levy 9 collide with Jupiter on a beach and how differently they view it. Heartbreaking song, feelings all too familiar to many.
- “Treasure” – This song is the de facto album-ender for me. Oblique, but so, so sad. It’s akin to “Asleep” by The Smiths as one of the saddest songs I’ve ever heard.
In between, though, they release Greatest Hits which includes a 2nd CD of “ehhh…ok” acoustic versions of every song on the CD.
Back to The Cure. It starts promisingly enough with “Lost – The Cure,” a song that starts with the smoldering refrain of “I…can’t find myself” and builds to a pounding, shouting climax. Again, another song more like “The Kiss,” a blistering album-opener. The rest of the album, for me, falls flat. “Never” is ok, but not anything special.
4:13 Dream was released after four singles, “The Only One,” “Freakshow,” “Sleep When I’m Dead,” and “The Perfect Boy” were released on the 13th day of May, June, July & August in 2008. “The Only One” is Robert enumerating the ways he loves his lover in plain-spoken hyper-sexual language: “Oh I love oh I love oh I love/What you do to my hips/When you blow me outside/And then suck me like this” Quite frank, but the song leaves something to be desired (pun not intended). It just makes me uncomfortable.
However, I did buy tickets to see them at Red Rocks, which I figured would be a perfect venue, and I was right. On a cool May evening, they opened with the languid “Underneath the Stars,” which has also become a favorite Cure song. You really get that feeling of wanting that song playing out on a lanai in Hawai’i or somewhere as you finish a bottle of wine with your significant other.
Moving on, “The Reasons Why” isn’t too bad. “Freakshow“, however, is. “Sirensong” is pretty good, a nice little piano refrain like you find in some Cure songs. “The Real Snow White” has a decent chorus, but there’s a lot to slog through to get there.
A home plugged into every phone
Kimono coral floral print
Exclusive tint and cut reclusive
No it doesn’t come for free
But it’s the price
We pay for happiness
|The Hungry Ghosts scroll at Kyoto Museum, Kyoto, Japan.|
The tune is good, and it’s just pleasantly surprising to hear a concept like this addressed in western culture.
As for the rest of the songs on the record, I like “This. Here and Now. With You” and the ender “It’s Over,” another barn-burner. Amazing live. Check some of the videos of it on YouTube. It started out being called “Baby Rag Dog Book“. I wish they had kept that title.
Which seems like a good way to end this entry on post-Wish Cure songs. With a wish.
For up-to-date Cure news and general fandom, check out Craig Parker’s Chain Of Flowers – one of my favorite Cure sites for years.