Thursday, October 13, 2011

Curin' with JT - Part 4 – Decline and Resurgence

Bloodflowers (2000)

JT’s thoughts: Oh no! Robert is depressed again and instead of yielding an amazing album, what this album ended up being was, well, just depressing. Robert had hoped this album to be the ending of a trilogy that started with Pornography and included Disintegration; sadly, it was nowhere near the caliber of either and this album stands today as one of the worst Cure albums, and at times a real chore for the listener. (C)

Favorite: ‘Out of this World’

Least: ‘Watching Me Fall’

Gem: ‘Where the Birds Always Sing’

Me – This one was a real disappointment for me back when it first came out. I recognized it as sounding “classic Cure,” with all of the right elements in attendance, but that sound was so intended, so well placed, it was obviously forced (aka uninspired). This means that while it was good, it certainly wasn’t great, and so after a few listens I pretty much let BF fall by the wayside. I was compelled to tackle this one early on for this project because I wanted to start trying to familiarize myself with it as I listened through the rest of the albums. I have to say that I enjoy it quite a bit more 10 years down the line. The band is reaching back, with moments that grab from all of their previous three albums (for better or worse), which adds a sense of familiarity and cohesiveness. Robert is nostalgic in more ways than just the music, grappling with aging/mortality, his own relevance and what seems like writer’s block. It’s in these frank and revealing moments that his former glory shines through, though with a different hue, giving Bloodflowers a warmth and depth I had missed in my mid-20s, but still doesn’t beg it to be re-listened to with so many other choices. (B-)

Fave: Watching the Fall

Least: 39

Gem: The Last Day of Summer

The Cure (2004)

JT’s thoughts: This is to Bloodflowers what Wish was to Disintegration...and seeing how Bloodflowers was no Disintegration, this is no Wish. The songs on this album range from boring but listenable to forgettable to completely terrible. The few bright spots aren’t bright enough for me to ever choose this album over one of their classics and the bad songs are just enough to keep me away. By the time this album came out, the disappointment it caused was about enough to give up hope that the Cure would ever release another good album, much less a great album. (C-)

Favorite: ‘Taking Off’

Least: ‘Us or Them’

Gem: ‘Alt.End’

Me – This is the second “difficult” Cure album for me (the first being BF). But while Bloodflowers sounds exactly like a Cure album, this one does not. As is often the case, it’s the production that makes or breaks it for me, and the Cure is heavier in a way that is unlike Pornography or The Top or some of the more abrasive moments of Kiss Me, but more like “metal” and yet not like metal at all, just more “rock n roll” but not really that either. Skip it… To me the songwriting is more inspired than on Bloodflowers, with moments that hearken back to the jangle of WMS or even Wish, but when put through such a “heavy” production filter they lose the bounce that would have made them downer pop bliss, and instead come off as edgy and sludgy. At the same time, I really don’t mind the production at all. The hooks are still present, simply harder to get to as the “rockin’” sound rather muddles a bunch of pretty good tunes that should otherwise shimmer…well, like Bloodflowers does. But that’s really on the slower songs, ‘cos the more upbeat tunes benefit well from the crunchier shell, but it still doesn’t sound like a Cure album, just a rock band with Robert on vocals. I understand the step in another direction, the trying something new, and ultimately it works ‘cos the Cure is an engaging album, but without repeat (and deliberate) listens, it’s also a forgettable one. (B)

Fave: Before Three

Least: Us or Them

Gem: Taking Off

4:13 Dream (2008)

JT’s thoughts: As I said, I was just about to give up until William purchased the first single (‘The Only One’) from this album and let me check it out, and with each subsequent single that was released (‘Freakshow’ then ‘Sleep When I’m Dead’ and finally ‘The Perfect Boy’) my excitement grew. So much so that I actually purchased 4:13 Dream on the day it was release (the first time I had done this since Wild Mood Swings). What I found upon listening ranged from good to great with no real clunkers on the album...while the singles do stand out, the album tracks are solid and overall this is the best listen from beginning to end the Cure have released since Wish. (B+)

Favorite: ‘The Reasons Why’

Least: ‘It’s Over’

Gem: ‘The Hungry Ghost’

Me – I had a lot of anticipation for this one because of the whole singles release scheme they had going on leading up to the release of the album. I loved all four singles (and b-sides) that came out before the album, so my excitement was pretty high. Thankfully I was not disappointed. To me 4:13 Dream combines the better aspects of both Bloodflowers and The Cure (classic Cure sound, pop sensibilities) with overall better songwriting. Not every song is a knock out winner, but at the same time there are no standout losers either, and it’s a good flow from front to back. What that means is 4:13 Dream is solid, enjoyable, a return to form and a worthy “comeback” in my opinion of Mad Bob and his abilities. Everything sounds fresh if familiar and most importantly, effortless and fun, as if they band is enjoying what they’re doing for what it is instead of trying to make a pinnacle Cure album, and that in itself is going to make the difference every time. (A-)

Fave: It’s Over

Least: Switch

Gem: Siren Song

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