The Cure - 4.13 Dream - Albums - Reviews - Soundblab

The Cure - 4.13 Dream

by Mark Hammond Rating: Release Date:

The Cure were exemplar's of post-punk back in the late seventies. Though they were loathe to be goth, they were undoubtedly archetypes of the lush and languid opus. Behind the Edward Scissorhands mop though, Robert Smith was also highly adept at banging out laconic and strangely hearty pop songs. Thirty plus years on, The Cure find themselves cast amidst a sea of bands that have taken notes from The Head On The Door, Kiss Me Kiss Me Kiss Me et al and one has to wonder; do they still have something to teach the young charlatans?

An eponymous twelfth studio album was released back in 2005. This self-titled effort saw nu-metal luminary Ross Robinson at the helm. Despite this somewhat disconcerting appointment, Bob Smith side-stepped the need to plonk a red baseball cap atop his wild mane and bounce around in baggy chinos, thankfully. So, given the time that had elapsed between albums twelve and thirteen and given the heavier direction that they'd previously taken with Robinson, I was keen to hear 4:13 Dream and where The Cure fit in with the present influx of bands that are clearly heavily inspired by them.

'Underneath The Stars' briefly allayed my misgivings, opening with the same ominous weight as 'Plainsong' from the seminal Disintegration and carrying a great deal of promise with it. Simon Gallup's aqueous bass then introduces 'The Only One' the album's first single. As a single this checks all the right boxes; it's catchy, it's lively and it's distinctly Cure. So distinct is it however, that it teeters on pastiche. Smith warbles an infantile "yeah it gets mazier every way I sway, with you it's so extreme" which reads like a four year old's attempt at a nursery rhyme rather than a sincere billet-doux to 'The Only One.' Maybe I'm missing the point. I could forgive Smith if all this didn't smack of his propensity for cutesy wutesy kitsch that has pervaded his music since he tried to move away from the gloom of Pornography and instill some pop sensibilities into the band. He might as well bellow "cuddly wuddly, fluffy wuffy, tiddly-toddly wee!" for all I care. This continues in 'The Real Snow White' where Smith seems to have grown out of humpty-dumpty-like limerick and has matured into fourteen year old adolescence with the churlish "It's only for the night and I will give it back tomorrow, I swear." Hearing him petulantly whimper those words makes me think he's asking his parents to borrow their Ford Capri to go buy an ice cream. I suppose it's catchy enough though and wouldn't feel amiss sound tracking some trite moment in a Jennifer Aniston rom-com. Whether or not that's a good thing, I'll leave up to you.

A few stellar pop songs pop up on the album, most notably 'Sirensong' and 'Freakshow,' the febrile chorus of the latter staying with you long after initial listen. These however seem to rear their tired heads too late without enough chutzpah to wake you from the ennui that set in as of track three. This coupled with the overall concern that The Cure are slowly but surely starting to sound like their own tribute band makes for an uneasy listen.

The Cure's longevity speaks for itself, but this all seems like Smith on autopilot, fey posturing and child-like inflections peppering each and every song.

By no means is this the grooviest thing, nor is it the perfect dream. It's 4:13 Dream, The Cure in 2008.

Best tracks: Underneath the Stars, Sirensong

Mark James Hammond

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