Originally Written and Posted at Epinions.com on 10/27/08 w/ Additional Edits.
For nearly 30 years in the music scene, there has been no band that's revered or beloved in the alternative music scene than the Cure. Led by its singer/guitarist/lyricist Robert Smith, the Cure often had a revolving line-up with the exception of longtime bassist Simon Gallup who had been in the band since 1980 despite a break between 1982 and 1985 following the release of Pornography. Yet, the Cure strived on as they were considered to be one of the premier bands of the Goth music scene while crossing over to the pop charts. After a string of hit albums that included 1985's Head on the Door, 1987's Kiss Me, Kiss Me, Kiss Me, and 1989's much-beloved Disintegration. The Cure were considered one of alternative music's best bands while there were times that Robert Smith had threatened to end the band for good.
While 1992's Wish was a hit album that was followed by two live albums, the Cure went into a major line-up change when longtime guitarist Porl Thompson left to be part of a backing band for legendary Led Zeppelin singer Robert Plant. Longtime drummer Boris Williams left the group in 1994 as Smith, Gallup, and guitarist Perry Bamonte were left as keyboardist Roger O'Donnell returned the band following his departure in 1990. Jason Cooper joined the Cure in 1995 after some auditions as it would be the Cure line-up for the next 10 years. After 2000's Bloodflowers that completed a trilogy followed by 1982's Pornography and Disintegration, the Cure seemed to be ready to call it quits. Instead, another greatest hits compilation was released a year later along with a box set of B-sides and rarities in 2004.
The band returned in 2004 with Korn producer Ross Robinson to create the band's self-titled release that received good reviews from fans and critics. A year later, Smith decided to go for another line-up change as he pared the Cure down to a trio of just him, Gallup, and Cooper. The trio toured as returning to the band was longtime guitarist Porl Thompson as the trio became a quartet for a series of festival tour dates. The tour proved to be a success as the quartet decided to return to the studio for what was originally going to be a double album. Instead, the result would become the band's thirteenth studio release entitled 4:13 Dream.
Produced by Robert Smith and Keith Uddin, 4:13 Dream is an album that returns the band to a more stripped-down sound of guitar, bass, and drums with bits of keyboards and loops played. Written and performed by Smith, Simon Gallup, Porl Thompson, and Jason Cooper. The album focuses more on swirling guitars than haunting keyboards as it features the band's trademark sound of dark lyrics, wobbly bass lines, and thrashing rhythms. While it doesn't reach the heights of past releases, 4:13 Dream is still an album that proves that the Cure still has some magic left in them.
The album opener Underneath The Stars is a song filled with slow but loud drums from Jason Cooper and drum machine loops with swirling, blazing guitars from Robert Smith and Porl Thompson along with melodic chimes and Simon Gallup's wobbly bass lines. With chimes flourishing in the background along with arpeggio guitar melodies, Smith starts to sing in his dreary, haunting vocals filled with dark, dream-like lyrics. With Smith's washy guitar and Thompson's arpeggio-laden guitar solo, the track sets the course for the album and its mood. The album's first single The Only One is an upbeat, bouncy track filled with all of the Cure's trademarks in arpeggio-laden riffs and wobbly bass lines as Cooper's drums help the song's momentum. Smith's vocals filled with desperation and yelps in its lyrics are wonderful as there's a nice hook to the vocals with piano-like melodies playing in the background for the song's chorus.
Reasons Why is a mid-tempo track with Gallup's bouncy bass lines, washy guitars, and a thumping rhythm as Thompson plays a blazing solo. With Smith's dream-like, dreary lyrics and cool, wail-like vocals, it's definitely an excellent album cut as Smith delves into his mix of dark lyrics with flourishing, pop-song structure presentation. The second single Freakshow is a bouncy, cowbell-driven track that doesn't totally work due to its presentation in its swanky, guitars and rhythms with Smith's snarling vocals and freaky lyrics. While it's not a disaster, this isn't one of the Cure's best singles because there's too much that goes on while the cowbell feels out of place in a song by the Cure. Sirensong is a soothing song filled with sliding guitar riffs, acoustic washes, and smooth rhythms. Smith's melancholic, despaired lyrics sung in his cool, dreary vocals is a highlight as it reveals that the band still can display great pop melodies in something that's simple.
Real Snow White is a snarling, mid-tempo song with Smith's mean, wailing vocals filled with dark lyrics as Cooper's warbling, mid-tempo beats and Gallup's low, rumbling bass line help accompany the blazing, swirling guitars of Smith and Thompson. With a rumbling chorus that is bouncy and filled with swirling guitars and Smith's cool vocal performance, it's another great track. Hungry Ghost is an upbeat, washy track with swift, rumbling beats and Smith's fast-paced, wailing vocals as he sings haunting lyrics with a shimmering guitar solo from Thompson during the chorus. Switch arrives with distorted, rhythmic drum machine beats and screeching guitars before it goes into a swift, mid-tempo track with Cooper's drums, Gallup's low bass lines, and charging guitars. Smith goes into his cool, wailing vocals as he sings despairing lyrics to the fast, screeching guitars that he and Thompson play.
The fourth single The Perfect Boy is a mid-tempo track that opens with an accompanying guitar with Smith singing about a boy who is everything that anyone can hope for. With its smooth, mid-tempo rhythm, blazing guitar washes, and wobbly bass lines, it's one of the band's finest singles with flourishing pianos, rumbling beats, and Smith's wailing vocals. This. Here and Now. With You is a smooth, mid-tempo track with Gallup's loopy bass, Cooper's thumping drums, flourishing keyboards, and arpeggio guitar swirls. With Smith's yelping vocals in the chorus filled with melancholic, dark lyrics, it's another great track that shows the band's unique take on song structures though the production is a bit polished early on. The album's third single Sleep When I'm Dead is a haunting track with sitar flourishes, washy guitars, and thumping, jerky rhythms with a bouncy bass line. Smith's dark, despairing lyrics along with his cool, engaging vocals.
Scream starts off with Smith singing softly with his dark lyrics as it turns into a rough, washy track with mid-tempo beats, grinding guitars, and Smith's low vocals. The song then begins to build momentum as it Smith goes into a scream for this mean, wailing track as it becomes a louder and more rumbling with Cooper's beats and Gallup's low bass line. The album closer It's Over is a rumbling, assaulting track led by Gallup's fierce bass line, Cooper's crashing, warbling, and the swirling guitars of Smith and Thompson. The song goes into a frenzy as it intensifies as Smith goes into his doomy lyrics with his yelping, growling vocals as he gets more engaging. With dual solos from Smith and Thompson on guitars, it's a fitting closer to the album.
While it's not as superior to some of the band's classic albums from the late 1980s, 4:13 Dream is still a noteworthy, sprawling, and adventurous album from the Cure. Despite a clunky single and some polishing in the album's production, the album is a still a good record from the Cure proving that they still got some magic left. Fans of the band will be glad that the Cure can bring out their doom rock to the world though it might not win over new fans just as a lot of new bands look to them as a big influence. In the end, 4:13 Dream is a stellar album from Robert Smith and company as the Cure continues to be one of the best bands out there.
The Cure Studio Albums: Three Imaginary Boys - Seventeen Seconds - Faith - Pornography - The Top - The Head on the Door - Kiss Me, Kiss Me, Kiss Me - Disintegration - Wish - Wild Mood Swings - Bloodflowers - The Cure
Compilations: Staring at the Sea/Standing on a Beach - Mixed Up - Galore - Greatest Hits - Join the Dots
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