Review Summary: A great return to form, but not without its faults
It’s 3.15 in the afternoon, October 22, and a friend of mine comes to my house with a rather mischievous look on his face. Wondering what it was, I spot something in his hand. “I got a hold of the new Cure album, what what!”, he says. “Why that’s smashing old bean, bang it on then, chop chop”, and away we go.
The Cure return with the album 4:13 Dream - named because the band is now a 4 piece for the first time in about 15 years and it’s their 13th album. The dream part? Haven’t a clue, but it embodies what this album is about.
Opening track “Underneath the Stars” harks back to Disintegrations “Plainsong” in the way it entices you in and holds you there for the full 6 minutes. The vocals on the song are incredible, even if we don’t hear a them for a good 2 minutes into the song, but even saying that, the dreamy chord sequence keeps you captivated. Smith certainly knows how to make a song emotional, while Porl hammers away on some wonderfully abstract chords, Smith plays a nice melody on what sounds like his classic 6 string bass, then the vocals come in and this song really takes off. I’m tempted to say this is the best song on the album, because it really does stand out.
For the rest of the album, the cheery poppy version of the Cure takes over. Most of the songs are in the same style as most of 1992s “Wish”, and it’s obvious the Cure are in a happier place, Porl obviously welcomed back with open arms. His scratchy guitar inhabits most of the songs from here on out.
The albums highlights include previous singles “The Only One”, in which Smith is strangely sexual (it get’s quite uncomfortable at times with lyrics like “Sliding into you” and the like) and “Freakshow”, here in a slightly different mix than the single version, but in no way does this take away the energy of the song. Smith is rather upfront with the song “The Reasons Why” in which he seems to discuss suicide with an unnamed person, although the guitar melodies really shine. For a song about suicide, it’s weirdly catchy. “The Hungry Ghost” sounds like it was lifted right off “The Head On The Door” in the way it jumps straight into your face and stays in your head all day, due to, yet again, the lovely guitar melodies, the thumping bass and Smiths vocals shouting, “we’ll never satisfy the hungry ghost”, and what sounds like a drum machine, or some kind of compression FX on the drums, that helps connect the song together.
It is not without its faults though, the abstract guitar of “Sirensong” is a little...well...annoying, let’s say. A strange almost bluesy slide guitar riff plays just behind Smiths vocals, however catchy they may be. The atmosphere in the production almost makes up for it though...almost. “The Real Snow White” is a complete drag, with a chorus, and most of the lyrics, consisting of the lyrics “You’ve got what I want”, but it isn’t sung all that nicely and really distracts from the wonderful drumming and Porls nice guitaring. “Switch” sounds like a guitar jam, and doesn’t really fit with the new Cure sound. It’s not a bad song per-say, it’s just includes a very similar feel to the vastly superior “Freakshow” we heard earlier. “This Here and Now. With You” sounds slightly clunky at points, but it’s a minor fault, and the lovely melodies and Smiths always romantic vocals make up for it.
So, every song on here’s a cheery “Wish” influenced one, I hear you ask? Not in the slightest. The last two songs “The Scream” and “It’s Over” show influences of a more guitar influenced “Disintegration” and maybe even “Pornography”. In “The Scream”, bassist Simon Gallup really shines with a lovely atonal bassline playing under the developing chaos of guitars. The song seems to collapse into itself at one point, then Robert comes in literally screaming the word “scream”, which I found to be a nice touch. Final song “It’s Over” isn’t your classic Cure last track. In other words, it’s not a slow song, but it’s certainly a build up song. The song contains Gallups best bass work of the album, it’s almost as if he can’t reach the notes fast enough, but it gives a wonderful effect. Smith and Thompson jump into a race to the finish with guitars panned left and right respectively and riffing/soloing away. It’s a frantic few moments until the vocals come in, and the drum work is really top notch. Overall, a fantastic, if not opened ended, closer.
As with most Cure albums, it has its upsides and its downsides, but the overall feel of the album is great, even if we were promised a double album earlier this year. The bands usual bleakness is breezed over, instead the songs are used to open and close the album instead of being lovingly placed into the mix.
We’d like the rest of the album sessions songs now, Mr Smith =D
Underneath the Stars
The Perfect Boy
The Hungry Ghost
The Only One
Sleep When I’m Dead
For the more dedicated fan :-
This Here and Now. With You
The Real Snow White
Thanks for reading