The Null Device

Posts matching tags 'the cure'


Spare a thought for Robert Smith, frontman of The Cure, who's having trouble coming up with relevant lyrics. Presumably more so than normally:

"I want them (the words) to mean something, it's not enough that they rhyme," Smith said in a recent interview. "I find myself stopping short and thinking I've done this before, and better.
"I've given myself a deadline to finish the words before Christmas. If I don't I should be shot," he said.
The article points out that The Cure made an early splash with "tight, three-minute post-punk songs" (quite unlike the bloated six-and-a-half-minute stadium-rock epics they were pumping out a few years ago), and paved the way for the emo movement, which may prompt some people to agree that perhaps Robert Smith should, in fact, be shot.

Perhaps he could write a song about the sense of loss at no longer being able to come up with lyrics?

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As alternative-rock fans age and, in many cases, start families, a US company has brought out lullaby versions of alternative rock songs. Hip parents can now soothe their kids to sleep with mellow, ambient renditions of Metallica, The Cure, Tool, Radiohead and such played on glockenspiels and acoustic guitars (or, indeed, Coldplay, who for some reason are still classified as "alternative" (presumably because of their shaggy indie-boy haircuts or something) rather than filed next to Dido, Celine Dion and James Blunt in the adult-contemporary section). Yesteryear's teen rebellion becomes today's nursery music.

Lullaby. A whisper. The Cure's music is just like heaven to their fans. Beautiful, infinite and captivating, The Cure's best work captures a dreamy sense of love and longing. This album is a mesmerizing and serene take on the kind of quirky, romantic songs that the Cure helped make famous. If only tonight we could sleep as soundly as your child will after hearing these interpretations of The Cure.

I wonder what else we could see get the lullaby treatment. Nine Inch Nails perhaps, or Limp Bizkit? NWA? 90s rave techno? Perhaps this phenomenon will cross over with Nouvelle Vague, giving post-punk parents baby-friendly versions of the Buzzcocks and Bauhaus and such.

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Jailed dissident Belarussian scientist Yury Bandazhevsky: the only decent release from The Cure since the 1980s? Discuss.

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Two members leave The Cure (hang on, weren't they supposed to have broken up?), reducing the veteran band to a trio. Though, given that The Cure jumped the shark sometime around 1990, and have since done a profitable but dull line in Cure-by-numbers, this isn't particularly noteworthy.

What is noteworthy, though, is the mention on the bottom of the news item that Robert Smith is currently working on a remastered version of Blue Sunshine, a much-underrated psychedelic-pop album done by Cure/Banshees side project The Glove in 1982 or so.

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It looks like the rerelease fairy had been busy recently, with a goodly number appearing on the horizon. First of all, Stereolab's 3CD+1DVD retrospective Oscillons from the Anti-Sun, is coming out in just under two weeks (a few days before OSX Tiger). I'll probably pick it up, it having a decent number of tracks I haven't got, as well as the videos.

Meanwhile, a month after that, there's a Belle & Sebastian singles compilation coming out, wittily titled "Push Barman to Open Old Wounds", with a decent number of singles and B-sides up until I'm Waking Up To Us.

And then there are those Cure rereleases, all lovingly remastered and packed with extra CDs of bonus tracks, live recordings and demos, all from back when The Cure were interesting. Or, as VICE Magazine (which, incidentally, gave the three rereleases 30/10) put it:

He wrote these in his early 20s. He thought he'd be dead by 27. Creatively, he kind of was.

Anyway, it's good to see a version of Carnage Visors coming out that's not a badly encoded MP3 of a well-worn 3rd-generation cassette recording.

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The Guardian's Zoe Williams talks to Robert Smith of The Cure:

Smith says he hates cynicism, and its sidecar of irony. A lot of artists say that; normally, they mean "I hate it when critics are mean about me, what do they know?" Smith doesn't mean that. Which isn't to say that he has no critical faculty. He'll be plenty critical about his contemporaries - he still has space in his heart to say that Duran Duran epitomised everything he hated about the 1980s (although he's fine about Simon Le Bon . . . "I wouldn't say we were friends. But he's all right. I can chat to him"). And he has a frankly cock and bull theory about the Smiths, and how their influence on the era is overplayed because there's a media conspiracy, full of media people who liked them much more than anyone else did (mind, I would say that: I'm in the media, and I really like the Smiths).

Smith's disdain for The Smiths aside, The Cure seem to have followed Morrissey onto the mook-producer bandwagon; their next album (titled simply The Cure) is being produced by US nu-metal producer Ross Robinson (of Slipknot fame), who is apparently getting them to talk about their feelings about the songs more and so on.

(The fact that it's a self-titled album and there's a commercial-alternative producer on the project doesn't bode too well for it in my opinion; it sounds a bit too much like The Cure are trying too hard to be The Cure, and/or to make a record that moves as many units as possible. I wonder whether they chose Robinson for non-commercial reasons, or whether they had him pushed onto them by their label; I suspect the latter. Mind you, in my opinion, The Cure haven't recorded a memorable album since Disintegration in 1989; Bloodflowers, in particular, was deadly dull, comprised of overly long, tedious stadium-rock dirges. It seems to me that Smith has exhausted the narrow form in which he has specialised, to the point where anything else he does sounds tired and stale. Perhaps if he did what he did before The Cure became, well, The Cure, and set out to write songs with themes other than the usual Cureish mood swings (Killing An Arab and Boys Don't Cry come to mind, as do various stream-of-consciousness exercises like The Walk, written before Smith started weighing his lyrics down with his trademark angst/euphoria), they'd find a new wind.)

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An article about The Cure in The Nation, penned by Douglas Wolk (presumably the one who runs the Dark Beloved Cloud record label/singles club):

His lyrics, on the other hand, are remarkably consistent in tone and diction. Four words are the cardinal points of Smith's compass: "girl," "dream," "mouth" and "never." They appear again and again in his songs, sung with special relish, bent into new shapes every time.

This is the first time I've heard of the quadratic girl/dream/mouth/never theory of Robert Smith's songwriting; the theory I'm familiar with is the cats/drowning theory, which posits a dichotomy between happy Cure songs and sad Cure songs.

Point to ponder: were/are The Cure a goth band, an anorak band or a generic pop band? The goths seem to disown them, though that could just be goth snobbery. Meanwhile, they don't seem to be very anoraky because (a) they're not sufficiently shambolic, (b) they're not Scottish, and (c) they weren't on C86. (Mind you, two of these points apply to The Smiths as well, so there goes that theory.) (via nadinelet on LJ)

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The Architecture in Helsinki CD launch was rather fun (in places). The first set (by Qua) was the usual obtuse laptop music, though not too bad. Jeremy Dower's support set, however, had a cheesy 80s-lounge-music (think Kenny G meets some cop show theme or other) feel to it; he's apparently abandoning the laptop-glitch side of things, though I'm not sure I like where he's going. And annoyingly enough, the music between sets was all booty R&B and commercial hiphop from the 90s (they had MC Hammer there, for "Bob"'s sake); not the sort of music that you'd expect the crowd, in their op-shop shirts and pastel jumpers, to get into, and there was too much of it for it to be ironic.

Architecture in Helsinki were good though (despite the place being so packed that it was hard to see them). In their usual so-twee-it-hurts vein, as soon as they got on stage, an accomplice opened a door releasing dozens of red balloons (one of which had a feather tied to it, and a prize for whoever got it). The performance was good too, in the usual xylophones-and-brass-and-reed-instruments vein. Most of the time they didn't quite rock, but played some very nice and somewhat quirky quiet pop. They ended the gig with a rocking rendition of The Cure's Close To Me, complete with heavy-metal-style guitar solo, and for an encore, one of the guys sang over an electronic backing track while the three girls busted some synchronised dance moves.

Oh, and their new single, like a call, is pretty good; especially some of the remixes. Apparently the limited-edition 10" vinyl version has an extended version of one of them too. I eagerly await their album, Fingers Crossed, which is due early next year.

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A brief review of a few of the CDs I picked up in the UK (well, the ones I've had a chance to at least partially digest), in alphabetical order by artist:

  • Ballboy, Club Anthems 2001: File alongside The Smiths and Belle & Sebastian. The spoken-word track about space travel isn't bad, and Sex Is Boring, which bags house music and club culture, also has its charms.
  • Below The Sea, the loss of our winter: Credible guitar-driven post-rock instrumentals from France. tropic of cancer is probably my favourite track so far. Unfortunately, my copy seems to have a defect which results in a fluttering noise when played; though one could argue that it's not as noticeable as it would be in other musical genres.
  • Bis, The End Starts Today: some remixes from their most recent album, along with their speech synth-driven cover of Love Will Tear Us Apart, which is probably the highlight.
  • Clan of Xymox, Medusa: A combination of reverb-heavy 80s studio rock, minor-key synthpop and goth-club floor-filler material, with the distinct touch of 4AD about it; a sort of Frankie Goes Eurogoth. Check out the heavily-processed guitars, rapid-fire drum machine patterns and po-faced Brendan Perry-meets-Andrew Eldritch vocals, as imitated by every other dodgy Cleopatra band from the US Midwest since, though this is a notch above all that.
  • Colourbox, Colourbox: Another 80s 4AD outfit, this time doing electronic dub instrumentals. They went on to form M/A/R/R/S, you know.
  • Cure, The, Collectors Curiosities Vol. 2: With Carnage Visors and numerous B-sides and no reference to the band on the disc itself (presumably to evade copyright audits at the pressing plant), this is another one of those London market specials. The "bonus tracks performed live in a recording studio 1984" certainly adds to the air of suspiciousness of the entire package.
  • Curve, Come Clean: Curve-by-numbers; crunchy overcompressed beats and overdriven guitar whines and Toni's distorted vocals and textures of analogue synth warbles and bleeps. I suppose that's the nice thing about Curve records; you know what to expect, and you're not disappointed. All much of a muchness, though Beyond Reach is nice.
  • High Llamas, Buzzle Bee and Snowbug; somewhat twee, post-Beach Boys/Bacharach melodies. Sort of like Stereolab without the difficult bits. (Indeed, Tim and Lætitia appear on the latter disc, as does producer John McEntire.) Good background music, though not the most compelling records ever made.
  • James, Laid: I picked this up for the title track, and because it was cheap. For some reason, they sound more Australian than British to me; not sure why. Perhaps they sound a bit like the Go-Betweens or the Triffids or someone, or otherwise give a sense of wide spaces and harsh sunlight in their music?
  • Miss Kittin & The Hacker, The First Album: minor-key neo-80s synthpop with disjointed, emotionless Euro-accented vocals, and KOMPRESSOR-style songwriting.
  • Primal Scream, Autobahn 66 promotional single: just the 3-minute version of the track. Blah.
  • Spearmint, Songs for the Colour Yellow: their early works, with 1960s power-pop touches; not as baggy as A Week Away or as bowlie as A Different Lifetime. Interesting to hear that they recycled the melody of the title track for one of their subsequent songs.
  • Trembling Blue Stars, She Just Couldn't Stay CD single: No, he's still not over her. Though isn't that the whole point of Trembling Blue Stars? Compelling, but in the way car accidents are.
  • Will To Power, Journey Home: early-90s LA studio outfit, best known for their cover of 10CC's I'm Not In Love; I remembered them for Koyaanisqatsi, their spoken-word rant over a slickly-produced electronic background, going on about corporate domination, animal research and damage to the environment from a gun-toting anarchist perspective (think early Moby meets an arts-degreed Eric S. Raymond). That and the Nietzchean sleeve notes add a touch of eccentricity to the rather overproduced, vaguely Madonna/Lewis Martinee-esque bulk of this CD. I wonder what Bob Rosenberg ended up doing after this; producing commercial dance music, or retreating to a cabin in Montana? Either sounds equally likely.

    Anyway, I picked this up for something like 50p at the cheapo branch of Music & Video Exchange, and am quite pleased with that. If I end up doing DJ sets, you can probably expect Koyaanisqatsi to end up in them, next to other curiosities.

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Today I picked up two CDs: the most recent one from Trembling Blue Stars (which is getting better than his previous ones, with nods to The Cure and The Smiths in evidence and some interesting electronic textures (though his drum loops still sound a bit Phil Collins in places); however, it's not quite up to the Field Mice's standard IMHO), and the new Silver Mt. Zion (which comes with a rant about the state of the world, and isn't quite as overbearingly morose as the first one; not that that's a bad thing).

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The Cure are back in the studio, working on some new songs(!) for another "greatest hits" compilation (!!). Anyone remember the eminently forgettable "Galore" compilation from a few years ago? Didn't think so. Mind you, the difference may be that now they own the copyrights to their back-catalogue, so it's them and not Fiction/Polydor/Warner putting it together. Still, given that their albums after Disintegration were rather uninspiring...

Interestingly enough, they also may be planning a "B-Sides" compilation. Let's hope it contains things like Carnage Visors and Splintered In Her Head and other classics.

(Wonder if there's any chance of a DVD release of their early videos, too...)

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I went to the Cure Dreamtour concert this evening. It was pretty good; I must confess that their new songs aren't really my cup of tea, though they played a number of older songs. The highlighs (IMHO) included Disintegration, Fascination Street, Just Like Heaven and the version of A Forest which brought the house down at the end of the set. Hearing the band with its new lineup, and with Robert's older, more weary-sounding voice, doing some of the old songs was an interesting experience. The lightshow was also very impressive.

(I was the one not wearing black.)

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