Wild Mood Swings

The Cure

Elektra, 1996


REVIEW BY: Vish Iyer


By the time Wild Mood Swings came out, The Cure’s propensity to make shocking stylistic changes to their music was nothing new. And although the giddy, more flamboyantly colorful atmosphere of this record is nothing that the band hasn’t tried before, it is their timing that is a shocker, which has got everything to do with the records that precede it.

Two of The Cure’s biggest records, Disintegration and Wish – one with a lush, gothic, almost cinematic sound, and the other with a gritty, noisy, heavily guitar-laden sound –sought the same melancholic paths, and both were heavily brooding. But instead of following up these two records with one more of the same kind, Wild Mood Swings turned out to be everything a follow-up to my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250 Disintegration and Wish shouldn’t be.

This release, like Kiss Me, Kiss Me, Kiss Me before it, encompasses the myriads of incarnations of this band in one grand package. This is an album of many shades, and considering how a single focused sound played so well on preceding Cure releases, the variety on this record could get out of hand and become off-putting. Although the lead track, “Want” encompasses elements from both Wish and Disintegration with its melodramatic style, it sets up for a huge heartbreak when Robert Smith then plunges shamelessly into the blindingly bright colors of pop music with no remorse.

For fans that love listening to Smith frolicking in frivolity, there is plenty to look forward to on this record. “Mint Car” and “Round & Round & Round” are the kind of sugary pop nothingness like “Just Like Heaven” and “Friday, I’m In Love” that have graced many a Cure album in the past, fearlessly displaying that this granddaddy of Goth can still be a fun party person.

The musical similarity and complexity of Wild Mood Swings is astonishingly identical to Kiss Me. Made up of eccentric pop songs, from groggily jaunty to the mournfully austere, this is an album that satisfies a little bit of every palette. Aptly titled, the erratic shift in moods also makes this the most inconsistent Cure album ever.

If taken apart song-by-song, Wild Mood Swings is a fantastic collection of some of The Cure’s best pop songs (namely “Club America,” “Strange Attraction,” and “Numb”). This is a party record, no doubt, and pales in comparison to the introspective Wish and Disintegration in terms of any sort of real depth. However, Robert Smith can be a genius not only when he is grave and serious, but also – as this disc proves – when he is just having tons of fun and letting his wildest moods swing whichever way they want to.

Rating: B+

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