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I can't in all honesty say I don't like this album - it's everything you've come to expect from Mr Smith and Co - *that* guitar sounds, layers of synths and violins, sweeping instrumental sections, impassioned choruses, and a delirious wave of wordplay conjuring up fantastic visuals. On the other hand this is *exactly* what you have come to expect, and therefor disappoints. It's essentially Cure by Numbers, and I, for one, expect better from these gentlemen. It doesn't help that this is essentially a 'woe is me, I'm famous' album, which is a genre I am none too fond of - how else do you explain the emotional non-resonance of Strange Attraction? The central subject matter of Cure songs has always been relationships and feeling, yet this tale of anti-worship touches no heart strings, in fact, leaves me cold. Even for those who do worship, who do wish they were the girl in the song, I can't imagine this would be a favourite track, it's so *not* real - the supper-lite music behind the narrative lyrics doesn't help. Some of these tracks are pretty good - Mint Car's hyperbole, and the fantastic opening lines of Club America are classic 'pure pop' Cure - silly, bouncy, maniacally happy, with that darker undercurrent twisted in there for balance. The slower, simpler Treasure and Bare, for example, reminds me of their Disintegration / Wish period - Robert Smiths almost whispered, intimate vocals, pictures of the realisation of the end of a relationship, striped down guitar and string melodies, slow bass rhythms. Even the literary references Treasure 'it's better to forget than to remember me and cry' linking back to Christina Rossetti's poem 'Remember' with it's closing lines 'Better by far that you should forget and smile / Than that you should remember and be sad' But at the end of the day, any of the better tracks could have come from an earlier al
bum, and there are more merely ok tracks that I would expect. The root of my disappointment is really that the Cure are known for having a very distinctive sound, and constantly moving it forward with each album - and this is repetition, almost stagnation. It's not even special as an object - standard jewel case, lurid ellow cover art - I know it's only packagin, but I'm gready, and want some pretty to go with my shiny, or at the least a dose of interesting-to-look-at. Not one of their best pieces of work, unfortunately. I'll recomend it, but only for those who are already fans. It's still better than a lot of pop, just not as good as it ought to have been. Wild Mood Swings - Fiction records - 1996 1: Want 2: Club America 3: This is a Lie 4: The 13th 5: Strange Attraction 6: Mint Car 7: Jupiter Crash 8: Round & Round & Round 9: Gone! 10: Numb 11: Return 12: Trap 13: Treasure 14: Bare www.the-cure.com NB - ratings below - for Producer read 'Band' Still can't figure out what they're really asking!
I'd pretty much lost interest in The Cure by the time this album came out. 'Wish', their previous studio album released some 4 years previous, hinted that the band might be running out of ideas, and the lack of activity that followed did little to dispel those doubts. 'Wild Mood Swings' was originally intended to be an acoustic album, but when it came to recording it the band apparently decided to go the other way and throw in every instrument they could find. This may have been a result of a sudden burst in enthusiasm, but I suspect it was more a case of a lack of confidence on their part, and a decision to make something they were more comfortable with (ie. another 'Kiss Me Kiss Me Kiss Me'). Whatever the intention, the result is patchy to say the least. All too often, they try to re-capture the quirky effervescence of their late '80s pop days, but fail dismally. 'The 13th', 'Mint Car' and 'Strange Attraction' are perilously close to self parody, with a contrived quirkiness to the tunes, and lines like "I really don't think it gets any better than this, Vanilla smile, and gorgeous strawberry kiss". Smith is clearly unable to pull off the 'cute-eccentric' image anymore, and these songs sound self-conscious and slightly tragic as a result. On tracks like 'Want', 'Round & Round & Round' and 'Numb', Smith expresses his disillusionment with his profession: "More stars, more smiles, more fame, more sex, But however hard I want, I know deep down inside, I'll never really get more hope, Or any more time". Not only is Smith jaded and uninspired, he obviously knows it and is embittered by it. This drink and drug fuelled bitterness lends a dark irony to much of the album, but although there is an admirably diverse range of musical styles in these tracks, none of them amount to much more than a pale shadow of songs from their past. This album is in many ways a disaster. But in the rubble of that disaster are buried some of the finest songs of The Cure's career. "This Is a Lie" is astonishing. A violin and double bass led chant, with Smith at his universal best "However unsure However unwise Day after day play out our lives However confused Pretending to know til the end" And the album closes with two acoustic songs that hint at what this album could have been. "Treasure" is a simple but gorgeously melodic trinket, with a touching lyric. And "Bare" is a desolate wasteland of a song. Complex and understated, the music provides a perfect backdrop for Smith's regret. It is these three songs that lay the foundations, both lyrically and musically, for the bands next album, 'Bloodflowers', and as such perhaps make that album's return to form less surprising than it at first seems.
Disc #1 Tracklisting
2 Club America
3 This Is A Lie
4 The 13th
5 Strange Attraction
6 Mint Car
7 Jupiter Crash
8 Round & Round & Round