It’s gotta be hard to keep something going for so long. It’s difficult for me to fathom a band being together for as long as the Cure has been, especially since it’s far longer than I’ve been alive. Nevertheless, 26 years and dozens of releases later, here they are recording new material and touring as relentlessly as a bunch of newcomers desperate for attention.
Just as much as the Cure has become an influential musical icon, it has become an exemplar of the possibility of a band overcoming the test of time and sticking around for the long run, a pretty admirable feat in a time when artists come and go so very quickly.
Whether this is a good or bad thing, the Cure of today seems to very much resemble the Cure of yesteryear. Frontman Robert Smith is still wearing the same outfits, hairstyles and makeup he did decades ago and still belting out the same earnest, romantically afflicted songs sung to that special “you” that we’ve become so accustomed to. On the Cure’s latest self-titled, full-length release, Smith shows no signs of getting over the pains and heartaches of love gone awry and kisses forever missed.
That much considered, along with the childlike scribblings that compromise the album art, it seems accurate to say Smith likes the idea of keeping things how they were in his younger years; a true 40-something going on teenager in a lot of ways. In the song “Labyrinth,” Smith lingers on his desire for and fear of losing sameness: “Tell me it’s the same world whirling through the same space / Say it’s the same you and it always and forever is / It’s not the same you / Everything has to have changed / Or it’s me.” Robert, there’s nothing wrong with trying to stay young, but there’s nothing bad about letting things change either.
Fortunately, one of the things that has stayed the same, besides Smith’s hair, is the fact that the Cure writes some great songs. This album shows a band performing as strongly as it did so long ago. The first track, “Lost,” is an immediate favorite. The song is as loud, energetic, confrontational and emotional as the Cure has ever been. The repetitive vocals that Smith shouts above a recklessly rocking band are catchy and memorable.
For a band that is trying a bit too hard to fight the inevitability of growing older, it’s aged pretty well. They don’t take their shirts off nearly as often as Mick Jagger, and that’s something to be appreciated. This new album doesn’t break any new ground or blow off any tops, but it is a strong addition to the catalog of a groundbreaking band.
[Danny Lewis thinks he could beat Robert Smith in a hair battle.]