By Chris Heard
BBC News Online entertainment staff
In a world of uncertainty and constant change, there's something oddly reassuring about a new Cure album.
As English as late-running trains or rain at Wimbledon, in their subtle way they have come to represent that masochistic national trait that finds a strain of pleasure in the misery of it all.
You know where you stand with The Cure. After more than 25 years and over a dozen albums, singer Robert Smith still does paranoia and despair better than almost anyone in rock.
The Cure's self-titled album is their first studio work since 2000
It's hard not to admire Smith's resilience or the consistency of his artistic vision.
In his middle years you might have expected him to be embarking on a gentler journey towards inner peace, yet the darker recesses of new album The Cure hardly point to a state of personal calm.
If anything, Smith sounds more anguished than ever - right from the first bars of opening track Lost, a harrowing reading of jealousy and loss in which he quietly pleads (and later wails): "I can't find myself."
It sets the tone for what is to follow, with Labyrinth treading a similarly claustrophobic path over Stooges guitars with its negative central theme: "It's not the same you. It never really was like this."
Fractured melodies and an air of lyrical pessimism - those essential Cure staples - permeate the next couple of tracks, too, and you soon realise this is no summer picnic for Britain's godfathers of gothic gloom.
Smith (centre) has been making Cure albums for more than 25 years
"All I am Is ugly. Nothing I am is beautiful at all. I don't get this world," complains the narrator in Truth Goodness and Beauty. Out of context it is just another sixth-form diary rant, but in these hands it makes strangely compelling sense.
It's not all depressive and dissonant, though - although it mostly is. The pop alter-ego that produced such catchy singalongs as Friday I'm In Love and The Love Cats is alive and well in The End Of The World (an obvious single), Taking Off and alt.end.
Meanwhile, the stirring Us Or Them, driven by classic rock riffery and an impassioned vocal, appears on one level to be a comment on the current world situation: "There is no terror in my heart. Death is with us all."
The Promise is a languorous 10-minute epic with a feel of Berlin-era Bowie/Iggy, while the album's closer Going Nowhere recalls the mellow piano disquiet of the band's 17 Seconds period.
The record is engrained with echoes of The Cure's stylistic past - from the quirkiness of The Head On The Door to the (more prevalent) isolated mood of Disintegration.
Even the children's painting adorning the cover takes on a sinister edge. The sun is out but there seem to be clouds overhead and portents of doom on the horizon. How very Cure.
What do you think of The Cure's new album? Tell BBC News Online your views using the form below.
I've been a cure fan since Faith. The Cure have always been a step ahead of the music scene with their records, always fresh and a journey to be shared, Robert, keep it up! Long live The Cure!
Davied, Los Angeles,CA USA
A definite masterpiece with different flavours in it which are disturbing like Lost, Labyrinth, Us or Them, but truth in the world that we are living. Also it is new and refreshing, The Promise, Anniversary, or Before Three. What many people don't understand is that the Cure is constantly changing and for better. This album is as excellent as Faith, Disintegration or Bloodflowers!!
Marcus Parisi, Baltimore, MD
Heavy and Beautiful, love this album and it grows. More UK concerts now, please.
Fresh! Something that The Cure haven't produced since Wish. The first three tracks are original and will never be placed into any decade, and will sound as displaced in ten or twenty years time. The album as a whole is consistent, powerful and ultimately Cure satisfaction. Well worth a tenner of any person with a heart and soul waiting to be broken. Pure self misery indulgent bliss. Love it to bits.
Martin Cross, Buxton, UK
I love it. This is a fantastic cure album. If you are new to the cure, or an old fan like myself, you will love it. I can't wait to see them this summer. :)
This is the LP that 'Bloodflowers' was talked up to be; unlike Morrissey's latest, it more than lives up to the hype. Much more interesting than Wish and really the best thing they've released since Disintegration. Highlights for me are Labyrinth, Us or Them, Alt End, & The Promise. Nice to see them being appreciated a bit...and making a decent LP in return!
Jason Parkes, Worcester, UK
I actually did like it very much despite had lots of doubts about The Cure's songwriting abilities these days. Looking forward to see them live soon.
Paul Baron, Marlborough, MA,US
I've been a fan for getting on for twenty years and this album is great! I initially compared it to Wish, but Faith seems a more accurate touchstone. Not too sure about alt.end which sounds far too much like In Your House for my taste. 9 out of 10!
Chris, Liverpool, Britain
The Cure is the reason i like music and this album proves once again that I love music....Difficult to say if it is the best album after an old one. All cure albums are good.
Anibal Ojeda (Zer0), Netherlands
Definitely a great album. They sound focused and tight. They push themselves into new territory without losing the core of who they are. The angrier songs like Lost, Us or Them, and Never are something new and perhaps won't be the early favourites of some but to me Robert has never sounded better. Unfortunately we in the US got stuck with a shorter album, but even still with songs missing, it's a great album for hardcore and casual fans alike. Also, if you listen carefully, you might notice the hints at reincarnation hidden in the lyrics, forming a brilliant little story tucked away for you to find.
Tomas "MegoHulk" Malloy, Chicago, IL, USA
I'm sorry to say that one of my absolute fav bands has not produced a knock-out album since Disintegration. As proof I point out that as a DJ, none of my patrons has ever asked for any Cure song from anything later than Disintegration. What happened?
DJ, Der Kapitan, Columbus, Ohio, USA
Hopeless, useless, the worst record since Richard Claydermans last
Bungle, Prague Czech Republic
A nice sampling of the various moods the band is known for. Obviously a bunch of tracks stand out as being above the rest in terms of overall quality and consistency (Labyrinth, Anniversary, The Promise), the ones that don't exactly hit a high mark are still a nice surprise as we get to see Rob & Co. stretched into possibly unfamiliar territory for a change. Change is always good, especially for a band going on 25+ yrs.
Fabulous band with stamina power. Look forward to next album.
Supposedly this album was going to be a double album with one side light and the other side dark. The producer convinced Rob to compress it down into one album. The bonus interviews on "secret" website also reveal that Rob and the bunch can't wait to get back into the studio to record a "part 2" so I'm eagerly awaiting this.
Ari Braginsky, Chicago, Illinois
It finally sounds like The Cure again, and not like a band trying too hard to sound like The Cure. A few tracks still lack of some atmosphere and intimacy. Others are magnificent, intoxicating and intense. It confirmed the impression I got seeing them on Jonathan Ross.
Once again the cure succeeds in another of their fantastic albums. Nice job boys, nice job.
There is no doubt -- you MUST have this album! The Cure's sound is simply gorgeous, sinister, abandoned and hopeful all at the same time. The live studio recordings capture them at their best -- don't hesitate!
Finalsound, Toronto, Canada
The Cure is a band whose style of music will always have its place. Thank God they are as original as they come. It is truly sad that this top 40 nonsense all sounds the same, no originality whatsoever. Mr Smith and Co. are in a league all their own.
Tony Alvarez, Wesley chapel, Florida
A very strong album that should hopefully go someway to silencing the bands critics. The album is definitely a grower and is certainly better than the last 2 albums. It helps that the band really seem to be enjoying themselves at the moment and here's hoping for several more high quality Cure albums (and a decent UK tour please).
Ian Reid, Leek, Staffordshire, UK
This band just gets better with time. I'm a long-time Cure-ist and with the exception of a few albums, they just deepen and improve their sound. Robert Smith is a lyrical genius, even a naysayer of the gloom should agree with that. I hope the rest of the Cure fans out there appreciate the bands resiliency as much as I do.
MW Sanchez, Austin, TX, USA
Perhaps it is unfamiliarity with the album (only listened to it twice so far), or perhaps it is my own high expectations of what the Cure are capable of, but my own personal opinion is that this is a rather weak album. Sure, it is better than 'Wild Mood Swings' (and quite frankly, Smith would have to have tried hard for it not to be), but this is not 'Disintegration' by any stretch of the imagination: if anything, a marked decline from the quality of Bloodflowers. A great shame.
Paul McLoughlin, London, UK
It's like a packet of cheese flavoured crisps. You say to yourself...All right, just one crisp/track. Then a moment later...all right, I'll have another crisp/track. Before long you've had the whole thing and feel oddly satisfied. MORE CHEESE FLAVOURED CURE CRISPS PLEASE! God, I love this band.
Rex Aubrey Dart, London
I have been a fan of The Cure for 13 years and I am only 23. This shows the power they can have over people. I have never been as excited about an album coming out and I am glad it didn't disappoint. While people say it isn't as good as Disintegration I think we have to give it a chance to engrave itself on our soul the way only a Cure record can.
Lyndsay Murray, Glasgow
Relentless and desperate with just a fray of optimism! Well done Bob and the band, just don't leave it another four years, the creative genius is still there! Its just so refreshing to have a band more interested in creativity than the corporate image of manufactured pop / rock / RnB etc etc...
As an ageing Cure fan who has to work in the daytime, yesterday evening was the first listen and what a treat! The Cure don't do bad albums - they just sometimes do 'less-good' ones. Happily those categories don't apply here as this is great. Thanks Cure for all your songs and for finally giving my stereo something useful to do.
Claire, London, UK
The best album they've put out since Disintegration. It's great to hear my favourite band sounding so fresh. Anniversary, Labyrinth and Lost are steps toward an exciting direction for the band and, although they have done some of the best pop this side of the Beatles, this kind of song is what they do best. Overall, i would recommend this to just about anyone. A definite inprovement on the last couple of albums. Glad they know where they're going again.
Graeme Wilkinson, Middlesbrough
It sounds strangely familiar but I know I haven't heard this before. It is like it is trying to be something that use to be there before but isn't quite.
I think it is comparable to 'Friday I'm in love' so don't be scared if you hear it - Robert Smith hasn't become unrecognisable since Wish. But not a patch on any album before wish, as much as I hate to say this. He sounds tired and old.....and like it is time to find new inspiration or give up the ghost of days gone by..... if Wish was wanting to be Kiss me Kiss me Kiss me and this is wanting to be Wish then what will we be in store for 2011? Perhaps these new albums are the ones that make you want to cry, because nothing stays the same. Having said that The Cure still put out some sort of music that seems more honest than others I have recently heard. - At least I'd rather listen to this than an "idol" series or other pop band"
not that I'm being harsh or anything........
Marie, New Zealand
Fantastic on the whole, a few songs let the album down but songs like Truth, Goodness & Beauty & the Taking Off make up for it.
Rich Monaghan, Marlow, UK
The passion and power in Robert Smith's voice is incredible. Many of The Cure's previous albums focus more on instrumental power. 'The Cure', however, highlights the fact that Smith's voice is also a powerful weapon in The Cure's arsenal. A solid album from a solid band - no sign that the band is reaching its twilight years or is outdated.
Paul Rimmer, Hong Kong
The Cure is the best band. they will always be the best band. robert smith is a musical genius. The ability to reinvent himself time and time again.
Thomas New Jersey
Just listened to the album and it was a really great surprise to me, a long time Cure fan, i think it's their best album since Wish, and one of the best Cure albums ever !! It's nice to see the guys back in form again !
Francisco Salazar, Maracay, Venezuela
This is a fab bit of work. Enjoyed it the first listen and then all the tracks grow ever more better. The opening track Lost is amazing. a good bit of anger well deliverd. Real instruments, real sound. Sounds very live. Does not sound studio-based. I wont be surprised if I get up in the middle of the night and put the album on. Its been made to play load so turn it up. Stunning, a true Cure fan album.
Darren Vallence, Newbury Berkshire
Well I know Im not from England but I thought I would jump on and throw in my 2 cents. Sounds like a good return to the earlier days. Perhaps trying a little to much on some parts but as always you can depend on quality writing and music from a band who has so much to give
Tim, Baltimore, MD
This is not a record which can be summed up after a mere day of availability! I must agree with other posters; a more fleshed out UK tour is long overdue.
Jon, Whitley Bay
Very happy with the new cure tracks. I love the raw sound and heavy riffs. I dont much like the pop side of the album but they are still very good compared to other pop. The cure are not giving us a real tour, sounds as though the uk have a better chance of full cure sets this year. I am not happy with all the short festival gigs even though I love many of the other bands on the bill. Anyways, love the new album 4 of 5 stars.
Brandon, Pocatello usa
I am deeply in love with the Cure's new album. It reminds me so much of the "beautiful" Cure albums like "Disintigration", and "Faith". It is nice to see a Cure album that actually resembles what the Cure originally about. No more "sing song" rubbish like those found on the "Wild Mood Swings" album. The new Cure album is the Cure in its purest form. Thank you Mr. Smith!
Jennifer, Memphis, Tennessee
Just fantastic! Donīt like the song "I donīt know whats going on" though. I think it would fit better on Wild Mood Swings...
Sigmund, London, UK
Its a great album that shows the darker side to The Cure. But also has the contrast with the brighter songs such as taking off and alt. end. Over the years The Cure have had many different styles from the japanese whispers period to the trilogy side of things. But the cure are a lot older now and still manage to keep the "Cure" style and once again stay as one of the giants of gothic rock/pop. To me The Cure are the best band ever and this album is great for who they are now. Not one of my personal favourite albums but still a great album to the collection and another masterpiece and work of art for best band in the world!!!
Matt Rogers, Sidcup
This album is truely a return to form, with many angst ridden lyrics from the genius mind that is Robert Smith floating on a backdrop of loose and swirling guitar....... Fantastic!!! I just wish they would do a full uk tour!!!
Mark Archer, Braughing, Hertfordshire
It's nice to know they aren't dead. I am still listening to the songs they released in the early 80s, I didn't realise they had released anymore.
Jeff C., London
A solid Cure album but a very two-sided one... on one side we have some amazing songs which showcase how great The Cure are (Lost, Labyrinth, Us and Them, The Promise, Anniversary)..... but the other side (for which there are only two songs - (I don't know what's going) on and Never) are very poor efforts, that sound like they should have been B-sides. Worth getting however, especially for non-Cure fans.
Steven Kilcline, Malvern - UK
What a surprise! Over the years the Cure have achieved some truly excellent music writing and I think the new album is probably going to be appreciated as one of their best.It is so raw it is frightening as it skips along at a pace with a casual but certain confidence.The vocals are stripped bare and pushed to the front of the sound which is very close and personal and in the lyrics content as well.I think the new album will require some listening after which I think it will open up to the listener showing itself to be another remakable piece of work by a band who are insistently and reliably always very artistic and creative in their approach to the music they make.So, a big thumbs up me thinks!
Hugo Shellabear, Buckinghamshire
What a fantastic return to form after a 4 year wait. Smith & Co deliver another compelling piece of dark rock/pop, watch out for their live shows this summer! This is one fresh, superbly produced and focussed album considering they have been going over 25 years, long may it continue.
Dave Copeland, Southport, UK
One of the Cure's best efforts featuring an impassioned vocal performance by Smith. Highlights include 'Lost', 'Alt.end', 'I Don't Know What's Going On' and 'The Promise'. As an album, comparable to equal parts 'Kiss Me Kiss Me Kiss Me' and 'Wish'.
A better album thn bloodflowers because it is as if the cure have remembered what they do best. A welcome return to form and a record that will be played long and hard on my stereo this summer.
The Cure have always kept up with what is going on in the music world, yet always retain their unique identity and style. They have managed what few can do, to appeal to a wide audience whilst having something interesting to say on many levels.So what if listeners smile and dance to the infectious grooves of songs like Inbetween Days it or Close to Me it just shows how good Smith et al are in songwriting and by the first impressions of the latest albums they will continue to do it.
Lee Roberts, Ynys Mon, Wales
After the awful 'Wild Mood Swings', and samey 'Bloodflowers', I'm quite impressed with this album. A little too poppy in some places but the angrier tracks (albeit maybe forced anger) are some of their best in years. Love Labyrinth and The Promise. It's no 'Faith' or 'Disintegration' but overall a pretty good return to form.
Excellent record from one of the greatest British bands. Look forward to the next one!
Cuttie Williams, Luton
The Cure are as ever consummate musicians and this album proves that with ample confidence. Smith's vocals are the perfect accompaniment to this dark, brooding music that is somehow more goth than Goth, and this album comes like a 'cure' to those sickened by the candy-coated Justins and Britneys that we are endlessly bombarded with.
Stuart, Eyam, Derbyshire
It's a fabulous album, definitely the best since Wish: we just need a few more UK concerts now!
Stephanie Gray, Milton Keynes, UK
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