For 17 years now, Robert Smith has been on the stage with his pale face and bright-red lipstick and, as the head of The Cure, he has been scoring as many hit singles as he has been wearing out musicians (a dozen each). A refined, heavily guitary new wave gloom sound as a base, but also a talent for irresistable 3-minute-popsongs (Jumping Someone Else's Train) - that's the formula with which Smith & Co. have sold 23 million albums worldwide. Wild Mood Swings is the title of their first studio album after a 4 years' break - wild mood swings indeed, as the title suggests.
First, all fans who value the Cure especially as cheerless gloom rockers might get moist eyes: the monotonously frightening guitar-maelstrom of the opener Want takes up the early masterpiece 17 Seconds, and Smith's mourning verses still remind you of a big child whose toy bricks have been taken away.
But, Cure have stopped to be the gothic combo of those early days long ago. One moment, Smith, the pale British romantic, is wallowing in Weltschmerz, losing himself in a seemingly never-ending adolescence (This Is A Lie, very sad, with violins), only to put 3 songs later (Mint Car, lively jingle-jangle pop) on record: the sun is up; I'm so happy I could scream. The transitions between neurotic despair and pure joy, between padded cell and beach, are fluid. The single release The 13th is summer music par excellence, with its relaxed Latino rhythms and yearning wind players - a calculated remake of the most beautiful Cure single Close To Me. All in all: Wild Mood Swings is the most varied, best Cure CD of the last 10 years.
(*** out of 5)