Bloodflowers

The Cure

Elektra Records, 2000

http://www.thecure.com

REVIEW BY: Mark Feldman

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 03/20/2000

For some reason, the Cure have never gotten the critical recognition that they deserve as one of the most unique bands of the rock era. No one has ever really matched either the signature dark, brooding, layered sound of their most meandering album tracks, or the peppy sound of some of their "hits."

Maybe it's because they occasionally overdo it. Maybe it's the makeup. But love them or hate them, there's no denying that the Cure have always been an entity like no other. When they were churning out new albums every year, their approach was somewhat ahead of their time, but oddly enough, in the '90s, the decade that should have finally embraced them wholeheartedly, they have been very spotty in terms of new material.

Bloodflowers may end up being their last album, but that would be too bad if it were, for it's the most cohesive Cure disc since 1989's Disintegration, their previous cusp-of-a-new-decade release. The two are actually being compared in nearly every piece written about the new album, and it's not surprising, since they both take the Cure's unique approach to album-writing.

Upon first listen, the melodies don't really stand out, and many of the songs sound the same. But after several listens, not only do the subtle differences between individual tracks get more pronounced, but the fact that many of them do have striking similarities gets less and less annoying. The reason is that on both my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250 Bloodflowers and Disintegration, the Cure set out to write a full length album, as if it were an hour long musical piece, one that evolves slowly and methodically, through lots of turns, but nevertheless as an album rather than a collection of 10 random songs. It's what they do best, and after the aptly-titled Wild Mood Swings, it's great to see it again.

But this isn't Disintegration Part 2: Electric Boogaloo. The Cure actually do something they've never really done before on this album - they let acoustic guitars shine through, and it's absolutely breathtaking. "Out Of This World" has the typical dense whisper-to-a-flourish build up of any Cure album-opener, but when the axe makes its first appearance, it sounds like they've been listening to Ani DiFranco. "Where The Birds Always Sing," the closest thing there is to "upbeat" on the disc, lets some well-placed piano trills and folkish ninth chords sneak in among the synth strings and wailing electric guitar - oh, and the words are good too, it's sort of a Cure self-criticsm; "The world is neither fair nor unfair… you always want so much more than this."

Even on the tracks where they're 100% plugged, they've never sounded this organic. Maybe it's because they're making a little more sense - "There Is No If…" is about yet another relationship in jeopardy, but it's a lot easier to tell exactly how it's in jeopardy. The vaguely electronic "The Loudest Sound" follows it as sort of a companion piece; a relationship (perhaps the same one) even further in jeopardy, but has a sense of complacency to the previous piece's struggle. The more acoustic "The Last Day Of Summer" is the kind of poem Morrissey would kill to write - "It used to be so easy, I never even tried… but the last day of summer never felt so cold."

As for the musical passages leading into the mostly-over-6-minute tracks, they're still well in excess of a minute, but contain significantly less repetition than in the past. "Watching Me Fall" is over 11 minutes long, but due to some of the wildest and most adventurous meandering guitar soloing ever to grace a compact disc, it hardly seems like it.

Not that repetition is necessarily bad - they did it beautifully on Disintegration, in fact - but it's good to hear the Cure trying some different tricks. Bloodflowers is the Cure in complete sentences. Much of the magical innocence has been lost, but the Cure are still as thoughtful, and darker than ever. Many of today's younger bands who draw their inspiration from the Cure's gothic past would benefit from hearing what Robert Smith and company can still do in the present.

Rating: A-

User Rating: B


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© 2000 Mark Feldman 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 Elektra Records, and is used for informational purposes only.