Elektra Records, 2000
REVIEW BY: Vish Iyer
ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 06/29/2004
Parting is never easy, especially after a bond of more than two decades. Bloodflowers is sort of a farewell album by The Cure, and every song seems to have been written by a moribund band, distressed, and in a state of turmoil, reflecting the fragile state of mind of a waning band.
The Cure had died long, long ago, with Wish and the supporting live albums, Show and Paris, in 1993. Wish was their best, and one of the most brilliant albums created ever. Sadly however, a good chunk of the band left it, leaving Robert Smith all alone, and expropriating him of the best music-collaborators, he could ever work with. The magic of The Cure wasn't the same at all, with the new recruits. With all the charm of the old 'Cure' missing, 'The Cure', post- Wish, just couldn't survive, and had to call it quits. Bloodflowers is Robert Smith's last attempt to resuscitate and bring life into a dying band.
When it comes to melancholy, no one could write them as good as The Cure. Disintegration was a melancholic masterpiece, created when The Cure was at its creative best. With Bloodflowers, it seems as if Smith is crying out the tears that he had forgotten cry out in Disintegration, and had kept them bottled up for a decade, to be released, when he needs help, the most. Alas, this time however, his words and music just don't seem to stir up the traditional 'Cure' aura, and falter badly, groping for a deus ex machina to save his band, and the album from drowning.
Even with a band he is not comfortable with, Smith still manages to keep a flicker, if not the flame of the original 'Cure' alive, in Bloodflowers. The opening track, "Out Of The World", much like Disintegration's "Plainsong", sad and somber, bids farewell, at the beginning of the album itself - A sort of a cheeky ploy by Smith to dampen the spirits of the listener, no sooner the record begins.
As the album progresses, each song, with almost the same mood as "Out Of The World", says goodbye, in its own lachrymose manner. Here is where a hint of the beauty of the old 'Cure' gets alive and kicking. "Where The Birds Always Sing", "Last Day Of Summer" and "The Loudest Sound", each poignant, soulfully melodious and touching, show Smith's helpless state of mind, and make the listener weep for this creative genius and his band in its dotage.
"Watching Me Fall", "39" and "Bloodflowers" show that Smith is incapacitated due to reasons best known to him, as these numbers drift aimlessly into nothingness from being real gems, never to regain composure, loosing ground, and making fruitless attempts to prove worthy of something which the album could be proud of.
The Cure is a band, which always seemed to understand, stand by, and provide a dependable shoulder to cry on for its fans in their times of pain. With Bloodflowers however, the roles are reversed, and it is Robert Smith and his band who seek sympathy from their loyal fans, rather than they themselves providing some. This is indeed an album by a great band on its deathbed.
Postscript: At the time of its making, and even after its release, Bloodflowers was meant to be The Cure's last album. However, surprisingly Smith is back with the band with a new 'Cure' record. Nonetheless, this review was written, deliberately assuming the fact that Bloodflowers marks the end of 'The Cure', in all fairness to the concept of Bloodflowers, and to the intentions the band itself.