Wild Mood Swings

New York Times
May 25, 1996

	Men can't handle heartbreak.  It produces an overwhelming 
self-pity that seems to justify anything: grim sulking, melodramatic 
declarations of loneliness, vows of proud solitude, heedless 
promiscuity.  In person, such misery makes for lousy company; someone on 
the next bar stool might well move away from George Michael as he moaned 
"Wont you help me save me from myself?" or Robert Smith [YAY!] of the 
Cure as he muttered: "This isn't love, this isn't life, this isn't real, 
this is a lie."  But set to music, the laments and rationalizations give 
listeners solace; somehow, the mopey guy becomes a romantic antihero.

	Both the Cure and Michael, worldwide hit makers in the  1980's 
have resurfaced with new, often morose reflecitons on love's vagaries.  
"Wild Mood Swings" (Electra) is the Cure's first album of new material 
since the million-selling "Wish"  in 1992.  [snip]

	Michael started out as an MTV-ready teen idol and pop star, then 
began to think of himself as a full-fledged artist.  The Cure 
unexpectedly moved in the opposite direction.  It emerged in the late 
1970's as a snappy, self-questioning post-punk band.  But Smith gradually 
became a teen idol for the hig-school-poet set [ME!!!], who identified 
with his yelping voice and long-suffering songs. [AMEN]

	On the new albums, both Michael, 32, and Smith, 37, are trying to 
move beyond their youthful images, as they consider mortality and the 
lessons of experience.  [snip] "Wild Mood Swings" begins with "Want," a 
slow-building dirge in which Smith whimpers, "I'll never really get more 
hope/ Or any more time," and it ends with "Bare," a breakup song in which 
he wonders, "Why does it hurt me like this to say that I've changed? / To 
say that I've aged?"

	[BIG snip]
	The Cure's 14 new songs on "Wild Mood Swings" trace a full cycle: 
from yearnig to giddy new love through a long, grim breakup.  It could 
just as well be called "Seduced and Abandoned," as Smith finds that lust 
doesn't guarantee commitment.  He lets himself be swept into pleasure in 
"The 13th" blurting, "It feels good!  Do it to me! Do it to me!" over a 
Latin-Tinged beat.  But the passion doesn't last; the women drift away, 
reunions go wrong, and even when he wants to hold on, all that's left are 
regrets and goodbyes.

	"Wild Mood Swings" is also about another break: from the Cure's 
previous style - a slow maelstrom of tolling electric guitars and ominous 
keyboards - to music that's less enveloping.  Although there's plenty of 
variety, from the "Strawberry Fields" undertow of "This is a Lie" to the 
Neil Young distortion of "Trap" to the jazzy waltz of "Gone!," the new 
Cure is defined by strummed acoustic guitars, drums played with brushes 
and auxiliary strings and horns.

	Because so many Cure songs linger over two chords [proves what he 
knows], the arrangements are crucial.  And while Smith's lyrics distill 
lovers' most painful moments into monologues that ring true, the music 
hangs back, as if refusing to confirm his delirium; it seems more 
objective.  For all the torments of heartbreak, the anguish doesn't seem 
so earthshaking as it was the last time, and all the times before.

Last Revised: Monday, 15-May-2006 15:00:08 CDT

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