4:13 Dream

The Cure

Geffen, 2008

http://www.thecure.com

REVIEW BY: Kenny S. McGuane

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 11/17/2008

The following is a dialogue that took place between a fellow pop-snob and me a few years ago. Let’s call him Matt.

Matt: Ya know, Ken? There comes a time in every man’s life when he’s forced to make a decision, forced to choose.

Ken:  Huh? I don’t know what you’re getting at.

Matt: Yeah, you know, forced to choose between The Smiths and The Cure. You have to make a choice.

Ken: Oh. You think? What an awful position to be in.

Matt: Well, not really. I mean, the same choice has to be made between The Stones and The Who.

Ken: Oh shit, man, that’s easy. The Stones. Duh.

Matt: Oh totally, bro. It’s The Stones for me too. But, Ken, you’ve gotta make a choice: It’s The Smiths -- the greatest band of all time -- or it’s The Cure. You don’t have to make a decision right now, I’m just sayin’ is all. You gotta be prepared at all times to answer that question.

Ken: You’re insane, man. If we’re talkin’, like, desert island discs or something, then I’d bring more Cure albums then I would Smiths albums.

Matt: Ah, dude. That’s crazy talk. Robert Smith is a washed-up fat ass. You can’t be serious, man. Listen to what you’re saying.

Ken: Yeah, man. Right now, in this moment, today, I gotta say I’m leanin’ toward The Cure.

Matt: Whatever, man. You disgust me.

Don’t worry, we’re still friends. We just try to avoid talking about either band in great detail because it usually results in us hurling idiotic insults at one another. But Matt’s right. At some point, any serious appreciator of music is gonna have to take sides with either The Cure or The Smiths. If you, the reader, need further clarification or require some explanation as to why it is this choice must be made, well, then you just don’t care about music as much as you think you do.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

It’s a tough call and depending on the day, week, month or my mood, I’m still on the fence.

Robert Smith and The Cure are responsible for having conceptualized some of the most incredible music of the 1980s.

Strike that. It’s some of the most incredible music of all time.

1989’s Disintegration is one of the finest, darkest, most imaginative, most sophisticated and beautiful albums of all time; it might even be the best album of the decade.  1987’s Kiss Me Kiss Me Kiss Me is a close second. The Cure lost steam after Disintegration, releasing a series of albums that -- while they remain dedicated fan favorites -- seemed to move further and further from the world Smith had so brilliantly created with The Cure during the 1980s. 2000’s very promising Bloodflowers seemed to indicate Smith was back on his feet again; it was hailed as the first “proper” Cure album to come about in years. It was strong enough to carry listeners through and past 2004’s self-titled album, which was decent, if not disappointing, but overrated for sure.

The Cure’s new album 4:13 Dream is their best since Disintegration. Which is not to say that it’s nearly as good as Disintegration; it doesn’t even come close. But of all The Cure albums released since then, 4:13 Dream is far and away the strongest. The record is splattered with tightly arranged, uppity pop gems, and all of them are carried by Smith’s signature vocals, which sound better than ever.

Album opener “Under The Stars” takes the cake as the best on the record. It’s so good and so utterly “The Cure” that it would have no trouble finding a home on any pre-1990 Cure album. It’s a slow burner, it’s long-winded, and it’s breathtaking. The band released four singles from the record prior to its release and all four (“The Only One,” “Freakshow,” “The Perfect Boy,” and “Sleep When I’m Dead”) served as a strong indication that The Cure were up to their old tricks again…in the good way. The four singles are nestled amongst a thirteen-track record where they’re forced to battle it out with a wealth of equally strong material, namely “The Reasons Why,” which sounds like it’s straight off of 1985’s The Head On The Door.

It’s important to note that despite the strength of the material offered on 4:13 Dream, it’s only really strong when it’s being compared to the 1990-2004 Cure era albums. It’s hard to imagine, at this point, Smith and company ever being able to match the genius of their output from 1977 to 1989. But for a band who has been around for just over thirty years, 4:13 Dream is a shit-hot record, even if it ain’t strong enough to knock me off the fence and choose definitively between The Cure and their nemeses The Smiths.

Rating: B-

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© 2008 Kenny S. McGuane and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Geffen, and is used for informational purposes only.