The Cure: The Cure 

From the early 1980s through the millennium, The Cure's benchmark has been an almost symphonic big sound built around sad keyboards and Robert Smith's desperately-needing-an-oil-change voice. Whenever the band strayed momentarily from that formula--the 1996 Lithium-fest Wild Mood Swings--they immediately followed it with a return to form--the 2000 gloom-slab Bloodflowers. What the band is up to, or on, on their new eponymous release is anybody's guess. Nearly forgotten are the stately dirge tempos and wispy vocals, in preference of heavy guitars, propellant drumming and Smith yelling at the top of his lungs. Thundering anthems like "Labyrinth" or "Us or Them" aren't classic Cure songs fit for sitting in one's bedroom wondering when the pills will start working. These are songs for when you have decided that the pills are definitely not working, and it is time to head up to the clocktower with a sniper rifle. The Cure poses no threat to replace the great albums in the band's canon, but is an intriguing exhibit of the subtle challenges facing a newly middle-aged band: how to sound mature but not tired, energized but not artificially youthful, and imparting growth while remaining loyal to a formula perfected when most of your followers were in elementary school.

--Nicholas Collias

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