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The Cure makes Wish softer than previous albums

The Cure.
Elektra Entertainment.

By Alan Peyrat
The first line of a Cure album sets the tone for the rest of the record. 1982's Pornography, one of the most depressing, death-obsessed albums of all time, started with the words "Doesn't matter if we all die." Kiss Me, Kiss Me, Kiss Me, their most poppish record so far, starts with "Your tongue is like poison, so swollen it fills up my mouth." The first line of Wish? "I really don't know what I'm doing here," escapes from Robert Smith in a moan.

There is no reason to complain about a new album from the Cure, especially after Robert Smith swore that Disintegration, their 1989 offering, would be the very last. But lyrically, Wish is much softer than previous albums. Gone are the vivid, twisted, sexual images; and the shock-value statements about life and death have left with them. Nine of the 12 songs on Wish are about relationships, generally the end of relationships. Meanings are too often straightforward. There are a few hints of the old Robert Smith in some songs. "Doing the Unstuck" has a line, "to burst grin giggle bliss skip jump sing and shout," and he spits the whole thing out at once. But other lyrics, like the following, from "Trust," "I love you more than I can say. / Why won't you just believe?" are totally representative of the other eleven lines in the song. Smith's moaning voice conveys enough emotion to make "Trust" convincing, but I am afraid that I'm hearing a Richard Marx remake.

Musically, The Cure is stronger than ever. Wish follows Disintegration's lead into more grungy, grinding, distortion-dominated rock, with a few exceptions. They can still turn out a catchy single with jingle-jangle guitars, an ability ably demonstrated in "Friday I'm in love." And that sound is blended with synthesized overlays in "Doing the Unstuck." There is a definite psychedelic sound in the Gothic tone of "From the Edge of the Deep Green Sea," a song that also manages to create a scene with the lines "and so we watch the sun come up / from the edge of the deep green sea/ and she listens like her head's on fire."

Robert Smith is rumored to be a happy and funny man offstage, his darker side released in his cathartic songwriting. Perhaps Wish is a signal that he is running out of angst to fuel his writing. He tells us in "End," the album's concluding rush of sound, that he may have "reached that point / where every wish has come true / and tired disguised oblivion / is everything I do."