Throughout the band’s nearly 30-year career with changing line-ups and different musical styles to play up to their Gothic persona, the Cure had been one of the most enduring and popular acts from the world of alternative music through the 1980s and early 1990s. 1996’s Wild Mood Swings saw leader Robert Smith and the band take on an entirely different musical style that proved to be too much of a departure for longtime fans. With the response to the album lukewarm and another four-year gap between records happening, the Cure decided to return to more darker territory in tune with such classic albums like 1982’s Pornography and 1989’s Disintegration for their eleventh album entitled Bloodflowers.
Written and performed by the Cure and produced by Robert Smith and Paul Corkett, Bloodflowers is the band’s return to their dark, Gothic sound with heavy guitars, down-tempo rhythms, lush keyboards, and haunting lyrics. Considered to be the third part of a trilogy of albums that best defines the Cure, the record has a more ethereal yet simpler sound in comparison to the more lush Disintegration and the more nihilistic Pornography. The line-up that includes the same line-up from Wild Mood Swings, in longtime bassist Simon Gallup, guitarist Perry Bamonte, keyboardist Roger O’Donnell, and drummer Jason Cooper, allows the band to finally realize a fuller sound without the excessive ideas from that album. The result is a fascinating yet mesmerizing album from the Cure.
Opening the album is the somber, down-tempo Out of This World with Jason Cooper’s soft, walloping beats and Simon Gallup’s smooth, sturdy bass lines. With swirling electric and acoustic guitar flourishes from Robert Smith and Perry Bamonte along with Roger O’Donnell’s swooning keyboard, Smith sings the song’s nostalgic-laden lyrics to express the loss that Smith is feeling. The near 12-minute Watching Me Fall is led by heavy guitar wails, pummeling mid-tempo rhythms, and pulsating keyboard swirls. Featuring despaired lyrics that includes dark imagery, Smith sings the song as he’s surrounded by guitar solos and Cooper’s hard-hitting fills throughout the song. Where The Bird Always Sing is a throbbing mid-tempo track with ringing guitar arpeggios and driving acoustic washes and soothing synthesizers. Smith sings with calm vocals to the song’s dark lyrics filled with eerie description of a decayed world.
Maybe Someday is a slightly, up-tempo track with driving guitars and bass along with pulsating beats and wavy keyboards as it’s one of the album’s heavier tracks that is filled with soothing arpeggio melodies. The lyrics that are filled with fear and the reluctance to change includes some of Smith’s finest vocals in the way he expresses the lyrics vocally. The Last Day of Summer is a mid-tempo track with Gallup’s wobbly bass line, steady drum fills, soothing guitar arpeggios, and lush keyboards that help express the song’s melancholic tone through its lyrics. Smiths’ somber vocals help enhance the sadness as it serves as an appropriate song for summer’s end as fall arrives. There is No If… is an acoustic-driven ballad with soft, clanging electronic flourishes as Smith sings lyrics filled with longing and sorrow to express heartbreak. With some melodic piano and guitar arpeggios, it is one of the album’s highlights.
The Loudest Song is a soft, electronic-driven track led by smooth, thumping beats and swirling keyboards that meshes with melodic guitar chimes and driving riffs. Smith sings to the song’s melancholic lyrics filled with rich description as it’s mix of electronic and Goth makes it another of its standout cuts. 39 is a heavy, mid-tempo track with pulsating synthesizer melodies, pummeling drums fills, swirling guitars, and low bass lines. Featuring lyrics that describes the end of things with fire being its key word, Smith’s evocative vocals take charge to this haunting yet powerful song. The album closer is its title track that features Cooper’s walloping drum fills, swooning bass lines, and O’Donnell’s somber synthesizer waves. Smith sings the song’s haunting lyrics filled with images of death as he’s surrounded by layers of wailing guitar solos and arpeggio melodies as it serves as a fitting close to the album.
Released on Valentine’s Day 2000, the album was considered a return to form from the band as fans and critics praised the album though some speculated if it was the band’s final album. Particularly as Robert Smith said in interviews that he’s thinking of ending the band altogether as a tour followed to great acclaim. Yet, the album did mark the end for the Cure as it would be the band’s final studio release with their longtime label Fiction Records after a relationship that lasted for more than 20 years. A year later, the band released a greatest hits compilation that would officially mark the end of the band’s relationship with the label prompting more break-up rumors.
Bloodflowers is a remarkable yet intoxicating album from the Cure. While it may be the weakest of the three albums in the trilogy with Pornography and Disintegration. It is an album that is still one of their finest as it ranks somewhere with records like The Top, Seventeen Seconds, and Three Imaginary Boys that features some of their best work. Particularly as it has a production that works for these songs which was an improvement over the messiness of Wild Mood Swings. In the end, Bloodflowers is a superb yet evocative album from the Cure.
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 - The Cure - 4:13 Dream
Compilations: Standing on a Beach/Staring at the Sea - Mixed Up - Galore - Greatest Hits - Join the Dots
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