CD Review

The Cure - "Bloodflowers"

By Dan Century

BloodflowersJust as Bauhaus is rejuvenating their association, with touring and the release of their first song in 16 years*, we're losing another of the founding fathers of gloom and doom: of course, the Cure. Has Robert Smith finally found the right balance of Prozac and Zoloft? Has he finally decided to lose the fright-wig and smeared lipstick and retire in sunny Miami? Not likely. Cure fans know that Smith threatens to call it quits with the release of just about every album. Although Bloodflowers is supposed to be the end, I'm sure Smith will eventually find new inspiration and record another album…

…But, let's assume this is the last Cure album ever. Bloodflowers, thankfully, is everything you would want a final album to be:

It's a solid album: the production is near perfect and the song writing is Robert Smith at his best. While Robert's not touching any new ground, every song is good and given time and reflection some will rise to be revered as classics - Watching Me Fall, 39, Bloodflowers and Coming Up specifically. Vocals and instruments are well mixed, but one never drowns out another, especially Smith's voice, as he definitely wants you to hear what he has to say.

Bloodflowers is a very personal album. Most times it seems like Smith is talking directly to the listener, telling you his story. While Cure fans treasure the dark abstractions (Primary), the literary references (Charlotte Sometimes), the pop sugar (Kiss Me…) and the playful drug soaked lunacy (Love Cats) of previous works, the time is right for some personal story telling, no matter how shrouded in metaphor it my be.

Bloodflowers is undeniably a Cure album. The music is familiar with no major changes in style. Smith still has the most identifiable voice in music and he's still punctuating his verses with his trademark screams and cat-like wails. Listeners will also recognize Smith's wandering guitar melodies, Simon's omnipresent bass foundation and the always clever use of keyboards and other electronics.

Bloodflowers, for the most part, is a guitar album with many textures; aside from Smith's trademark Fender - acoustic rhythms, potent rock-riffing and searing guitar solos add flavor and substance to each song. Electronica and keyboards play a supporting role for most of the album, popping up on songs like There Is No If to add an odd rhythm, or gurgling around the beginning of 39 like a slow The Baby Screams, but mostly adding atmosphere elsewhere. Bloodflowers, like Pornography and Disintegration, is consistent in tone and theme; in fact every song seems to be played in the same key. Lengthy intros and long, but never tedious, playtimes characterize nearly every song.

Thoughts about a few of the songs:

Out of This World - Sweet acoustic guitars and sampled ambience. From the first notes of the wandering guitar, you know this is a Cure album. Lyrics like, "I know we have to go, I realize / We only get to stay so long," make it clear that this is a farewell album.

Watching Me Fall - This song clocks in at well over 11 minutes of subdued but solid guitar riffing that draws more from Hendrix than the Cure. Some of Smith's most vivid lyrics in at least a decade. Smith is back in Tokyo on an all-night pleasure binge, wasted and he's picked up 'a date' for some serious shagging**. Lots of energy and impulse. The song is so good, so well structured in terms of tension and drama, that you won't notice how long it is.

Where The Birds Always Sing - "The world is neither fair or unfair, some survive and other's die/the world is neither just or unjust, it's just us trying to make sense of it all." A perfect Cure song musically and lyrically.

Maybe Someday - Maybe someday, they'll get back together? "No I won't do it again/I don't want to pretend/If it can't be like before/I've got to let it end…but maybe someday." Trademark sliding Fender guitars like From The Edge Of The Deep Green Sea. Big drums, solid bass…and hope for rabid fans.

39 - Some very funky intro electronics and a gritty, ominous bass-line…lots of drama and tension. More end of the Cure lyrics: "The fire is almost cold and there's nothing left to burn/I've run right out of feeling, and I've run right out, of words..." Major rock riffing and some raw Guns 'n' Roses type soloing. Surprisingly funky, gritty guitar grooves backing up Smith's frank confessions.

Bloodflowers - If you like studying lyrics you'll have lots of fun with this album. Like what are "Bloodflowers": Smith's songs? The sentiments expressed? "These flowers will never die"… does he mean the legacy of the Cure will never die? Heavy, complex drumming coated with plenty of flange like Pornography. Another surprisingly over the top guitar solo.

Coming Up - A Japanese or vinyl only track. Unlike anything else on the album, which is possibly why it was excluded from the US release. A very heavy beat with big, swirling electronics like a Chemical Bros. Remix. Coming Up doesn't sound like a Cure song until Smith starts singing. Wild and very metal guitar soloing. Raw, dark and driven.

Bloodflowers is essential listening for diehard Cure fans, and older Cure fans who gave up along the way should give it a change too. If this truly is the final album, they definitely went out on a high note.

Contact Information:
Web: http://www.thecure.com/***
*See their Web site: http://www.bauhausmusik.com.
**At least it seems that way…
***I have a hard time believing this is the official Web site. It's horrible.

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