The Cure - 4:13 Dream
Review by Jack Foley
IT’S been four years in the making but now that the wait is finally over The Cure’s 13th studio album turns out to be the stuff of dreams rather than nightmares. It’s a glorious reminder of why we’ve come to love them so much rather than a boundary-pushing re-think.
Robert Smith’s vocals are as crisp, and dare I say whiney, as ever, while the guitar work continues to be exemplary – flitting between angry, almost violent and tender and heartbreakingly beautiful.
Most fun, however, are the innumerable nods to days gone by. New songs deliberately soundcheck fond memories, while the over-riding sense that The Cure are rejuvented – and sometimes even re-anguished – rings true throughout.
Take penultimate offering The Scream as evidence of the band at their most pained and angry. It culminates in an almighty wail from both Smith and the guitars that might even be capable of breaking glass if you’re unfortunate to have it turned up loud enough! It’s a slow-building effort that slowly layers on the agony amid lyrics such as “it’s like everything I know is twisted ouy and wrong”.
Such moments serve as a stark contrast to the jolly, melody-strewn likes of The Only One, which gleefully soundchecks past hits such as Just Like Heaven, and thereby delivers a crowd-pleasing album highlight. It’s an example of The Cure’s guitars at their most lush – and you can’t help but become wrapped up in their warmth.
Another highlight, Underneath The Stars, opens proceedings in typically elegaic fashion… skyscraping riffs jostling for position with some more fragile ones, as the epic, even cinematic nature of the instrumentation is allowed to take centre stage for well over two minutes. Straight away, you know you’re treading familiar waters, but the feeling remains one of excitement rather than gloom.
The Reasons Why, meanwhile, is built around short, cute, snappy hooks that build on the sunny demeanour introduced by The Only One, creating the reassuring sense that Smith and company are clearly having fun – especially given that such fun instrumentation is set around lyrics such as “I won’t try to bring you down about my suicide”.
Siren’s Song is another beautiful listen, where the guitars once again entrance, as is The Hungry Ghost and The Perfect Boy, which again nods at former glories with lyrics such as “you and me are the world, she said, nothing else is real”.
For those seeking the gritty, more Goth side of the band, The Scream is joined by the likes of Switch, which opens with a really rousing solo guitar, and It’s Over, quite possibly the most volatile final track the band have ever recorded.
Sleep When I’m Dead also contains a greater sense of urgency that harks back to their early, Boys Don’t Cry work, while Freakshow underlines their reputation as the grand old outsiders of British rock.
Indeed, there’s something for every fan on this album, which should be somewhere near the top of their Christmas list as we approach that season! Let’s just hope we don’t have to wait another four years before the next album!
Download picks: The Only One, The Hungry Ghost, The Perfect Boy, The Reasons Why, Underneath The Stars, Siren’s Song