The Cure, Bloodflowers/Wild Mood Swings (Elektra)
It is becoming rampantly evident that bombast-xxx’s primary function is to fly in the face of popular opinion. The Cure’s latest “effort” becoming the latest victim to this trend.
Heralded as a “return to form,” Bloodflowers lacks the musical inventiveness which the Cure have previously displyed to great advantage. The reviews which probably read suspiciously similar to the press kit speak of the ‘dark’ side of the Cure returning and of Bloodflowers being the end of the Trilogy begun with Pornography and Disintegration. Funny, I always thought that Seventeen Seconds, Faith and Pornography were a trilogy.
Bloodflowers, as every Cure album has for the past two decades, evidences remarkable production. But the songs are lackluster. I listened through a few times and could barely distinguish one from the next. It’s as though Robert Smith is covering his own songs. The single even boasts a little descending guitar riff not unlike “Just Like Heaven,” “In Between Days,” “Mint Car,” et al. I have no idea how they picked that one to be the single.
The real injustice is that reviewers and fans alike are embracing Bloodflowers as a “return to form,” because they see its predecessor, Wild Mood Swings, as an artistic and commercial disappointment. Not so, I say. Wild Mood Swings showed off the Cure in top inventive form. “Want” is a better opener than whatever opens Bloodflowers. It’s a typical Cure first track but above par. “Club America” shows off Robert’s deep singing voice in a manner not heard since “Harold and Joe” off the “Never Enough” single. Here, in “Club America,” the wah-wah guitar doesn’t sound as hackneyed as it will four years later. “This is a Lie” is pure Cure weepy goth, but again raised above par by the strings and Robert’s lyrical articulation.
“The 13th” is the best single the Cure have released since “Catch,” I believe, in terms of its sheer strange yet catchy atmosphere. Tell me anyone expected that to be the first sound we heard from the Cure in 1996…
These first four tracks open the album stronger than Bloodflowers will four years on.
Wild Mood Swings gets a little foggy in places, but generally the bright (read: different) production and host of atypical, interesting songs make the entire album fulfilling.
If Robert Smith has guided his band of goth-poppers back to the gloom as a gesture to appease the fans or his record company, he has made a terrible error. Moreso than their goth roots, the Cure have a tradition of experimenting with pop songs. “Let’s Go to Bed,” “Hot, Hot, Hot,” and practically anything from The Top or Head on the Door evidence this. By not including any songs like these on Bloodflowers, the Cure absolutely do not return to form.