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Artists Condensed: The Cure (part three)

If there's one thing doing Artists Condensed has taught me, it's that an individual's love for the work of a particular band is, to borrow a phrase from previous Condensee Rufus Wainwright, an imaginary love. By tearing through an entire artist's catalog, I've come to discover time and again that I just don't like a number of artists as much as I thought I did. I try to imagine what kind of person actually enjoys even 75% of what a given artist produces, let alone the full 100%, and the only kind I can think of is the raging super-fan who literally doesn't listen to anyone but Band X or Artist Y. Sure, I can say that I like The Cure, just not nearly as much as I thought I did at the outset.

Of The Cure's entire canon, I have selected 43 total songs that I believe are either essential or demonstrative of the band's style and development. If I were being generous, I could bump the number of songs I actually enjoy to an even 50. Still, of the The Cure's 155 unique tracks produced across 13 studio albums, minus the 13 from 4:13 Dream (which I didn't listen to for this feature), a mere 50 is approximately 1/3 of the band's entire output. The only reason I believe I can still say I actually like The Cure even though I technically don't even enjoy a majority of their recordings is that I believe very few of us listeners really like most of the artists we listen to any more than that.

I have a theory that in the mid-1990's, nobody knew what they were doing in music. Rock stagnated roughly between 1994 and the early 00's, like everyone just ran out of ideas. Instead of playing new riffs and finding rock's plentiful energy, even the best artists turned to over-production to save them from boredom. Wild Mood Swings isn't a bad album, per se, it's just nothing special in comparison to everything else that came out in rock at the time.

  • The 13th
  • Strange Attraction
  • Gone!
  • Return

When a rock band turns to jazz stylings and they aren't fronted by Frank Zappa, it's time to hang up the guitar.

As if cementing themselves into the Goth Godfathers role that never entirely fit them, The Cure provided the above song for the soundtrack of The Crow, undoubtedly the gothiest movie ever made. The strange part is that The Crow is actually a pretty good movie, not to mention lightyears ahead of the industry's recent obsession with adapting graphic novels, and that "Burn" is the best song The Cure recorded in the years between Wish and this very moment.

With 2000's Bloodflowers, The Cure introduced themselves to yet another generation. Most of the album is pretty unlistenable, but I can see how it would resonate with angsty teens. It's all a little too artful to be called a calculation exactly, but I think it sets the stage for the 21st century Cure. I doubt they'll ever be as good as they were in their heyday, but if Bloodflowers gets some kid to listen to Disintegration, then it was all worth it.

 

So, there we have it. Another artist distilled and another week gone. I'll be back next week with another artist. Until then, listen well.