Review Summary: Not for the new fans, this album is for more dedicated Cure fans.
Do great things come in pairs? It certainly seems that way. A pair of shoes for example: everyone likes a pair of shoes don’t they? They stop your feet getting sore and dirty when you’re walking around. Sometimes music comes in pairs as well. “The White Album” is a prime example of this. Sometimes, however, you must wait for something to be complete, in this case “Pornography” and “Disintegration” by The Cure. Both very same-minded albums that have an underlining link between them, yet they are a good 7 or so years apart. But what happens when a trilogy emerges?
To quote Robert Smith around the release of “Bloodflowers”, “I just wasn’t happy with the direction the band was taking. I listened to a track we recorded, “Possession”, and I just didn’t feel it”. If one is to listen to the song “Possession”, you will hear a happy-poppy version of the Cure most evident on their last outing, “Wild Mood Swings”, and is seen as many as a low point for the band. “Bloodflowers”, however, was seen as a stylistic return to form.
The mood for the album regenerates that underlining link between the other two albums in the trilogy, but at the same time fails to reach the high point set by the two previous albums. Don’t get me wrong, “Bloodflowers” would be an above average collection of songs for any other band, but with the Cure, a bit more is expected.
From the opening track “Out of this World”, its obvious Robert has reverted back to the gloomy master of moods he was in 1982 and 1989, but at the same time, a level of maturity emerges. Laden with controlled feedback and layer upon layer of electric guitar, the song is simply a joy to behold. Then Smiths lyrics come in, and it’s again obvious to any listeners that this is a man who wants to speak his mind. Everything from the opening feedback to the last word escaping Roberts mouth is very well done, and the band seem comfortable with the new, or should I say old, mindset the singer has placed himself in. After all, the Cure is Robert Smiths brainchild, his only link to the world after his death. He’s well within his right to change the sound.
But complications are going to emerge. The first of which shows in the form of the second track, an almost out of place 11 minute “epic” if you will. This is pure Cure (pardon the rhyming), take a chord sequence and stretch it as far as you can. Again, the distorted guitars are layered and layered to create a mood, but the song is just too long, even if the chorus is quite good. It has an almost jam-band feel at points, and this isn’t what the Cure are good at.
The album does have its high points though. The wonderfully whimsical “There is no If...” being one of those high points, with its prominent acoustic guitar and gentle lead guitar melodies. Even the bass seems to keep the mood, with gentle notes almost lovingly crafted into the mix, not daring to draw attention away from the beautiful lyrics. This is what the cure should be at this point in their career: looking back at the past and smiling, drawing experience from it. Another high point is the title track, with its heartbreaking guitar melodies. Smith quietly sings his lyrics at the beginning, before erupting in a flash of anger to close the album.
Again, with every high on this album, there is something that just doesn’t work or goes on for too long. The song I’m referring to is the 7 minute long “39”, written by Smith on his 39th birthday. On this song, Smith compares his life to a fire...and keeps comparing his life to a fire. Listen to the track and you will see what I mean. Unlike other songs on the album, the song stays pretty consistent for the entire 7 minutes, due to the fact it opens with a strange synth and going into the aggressive bass driven melodies that stays pretty much the same throughout. This seems to be the method chosen for most songs on “Disintegration”, I hear you say. Well, something is missing here, and I’m not the one to point out what it is, but it’s just not there.
But let’s not stay negative, eh?
Another lovely point of the album is O’Donnell’s choice of keyboard voices. Gone is the aggressive synths of the past album, and here he seems to leave it on a grand piano setting, that works very well with most of the songs on the album, most prominent in the opening track with a strange scale run that goes into a piano song. This is another point of what gives the Cure their sound, their ability to use the keyboard to its fullest ability. And for the most part it works very well.
Overall, the album is a disjointed trip through Robert Smiths mind, and like most albums has its highs and lows. But they seem to balance each other out pretty well, and most of the band members are used to their fullest ability. I wouldn’t recommend this as a first buy for the Cure, or even the first 5 albums you should buy, but the album is definitely a grower. Upon first listen to this, I wasn’t too impressed, but 6 months on, I started to appreciate the album more and more.
I can only hope one day you’ll do the same. Give the album another chance before you compare it to “Disintegration” and “Pornography”, the other two albums in the Cures Trilogy.
Out of this World
There is no If...
For the more dedicated fan...
Last Day of Summer
The Loudest Song
Hope this review helps in deciding whether or not to buy this album. Thanks for reading!