Hairdo Well!

New Music Express
June 1996
Mark Sutherland

The Cure/ Wild Mood Swings (Elektra/Fiction)

HUGE PANORAMIC vistas of maudlin introspective guitar tinkling! Song titles
like 'Numb', 'Bare', and 'Round & Round & Round'! Smudged make-up! Bird's 
nest hairdos! Oh Yes, it's the new Cure album alright.
     Must be that time of the decade again. Because perennials don't come
any hardier than Mad Bob Smith and his interchangeable array of poorly
barnetted chums. Like your parents, washing powder ads and the pic'n'mix
counter at Woolworths, The Cure remain miraculously unaffected by the 
ravages of time and fashion. So, wonder not if the planet's last surviving
goth band can survive in the post-Britpop wonderland. Merely marvel that 
they have gazed upon Blur, Oasis and the rest, scrambled over the Lol
Tolhurst court case 'hurdle' and, give or take the odd strawberry bon-bon,
elected to remain exactly the same as always.
     But then that, in a very real sense, is the secret of The Cure's immense
success. To all intents and purposes, they've been making precisely the 
same album since they started way back in 1952: the knack is to ensure 
each successive LP is sufficiently kissable to immediately outmode it's
     So, while the arrival of 'Wild Mood Swings'- a singularly appropriate
title, actually- will be initially greeted with titters of embarrassed
muttering of, "to think I used to like these Bozos!", put the record on
(just "for old times' sake", obviously) and you'll soon find yourself
remembering why you loved them in the first place.
     Even better, "Wild Mood Swings" is a grab bag of all the Cure's 
myriad specialties, romping through everything from 'Disintegration'-
style bleakness (epically glum album opener 'Want') to 'The Top'esque
wonkyisms (the initially slight, eventually indispensable single 'The
13th') right up to full-on Wish-era jangle pop (Return is, quite simply,
'Friday I'm in Love' on bonkers drugs and a brass section). The end 
result is, essentially, rather like a compilation album, with all the 
disjointedness that implies. If it was a compilation, the record 
company would call it 'The Best Cure album in the world....ever!', even 
though it isn't. If you get my meaning.
      It is, however, still a remarkable comeback for a band that should,
by rights, be marginally less relevant to 1996 than the Stone Temple
Sodding Pilots. Smith's unerring pop sensibility is well to the fore,
resulting in a couple of delightfully off-kilter gems ('Treasure',
'Round & Round & Round'). several introspectively essential ballads,
('This is a lie', 'Jupiter Crash','Bare') and at least one solid-gone
POP! classic (the delirious wolf-whistling of 'Mint Car'). Oh and 
naturally, two absolute howlers: the witless jazz noodling of 'Gone!'
and, of all things, a Tin machine pastiche called 'Club America'.
      The end result is an album that wouldn't recognise the _zeitgeist_
if it punched it in the face. An album that has no place in 1996. An 
album thats... all the better for it, actually.
      Same time, same place, same hairdo in 1999 then, right? (7)

Last Revised: Monday, 15-May-2006 15:00:06 CDT

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