Capsule Review: 4:13 Dream by The Cure

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November 4, 2008

2:10 AM

Fans of The Cure know that with another election year comes another album. Their last endeavor, the 2004 self-titled release, was a heavy, lopsided creation held together more by raw emotion than by solid chord progressions. The end result of the album was an unpleasant mess that looked like the curtains for The Cure.

Nevertheless, on certain dark and stormy nights, the band is still strangely affecting, even if we’re left reaching for the black eyeliner. With their latest release, “4:13 Dream,” The Cure is comfortably back in its niche of melancholy music soaked in nostalgia and tears. The first track, “Underneath the Stars,” sets the stage for the album by opening with the same delicate, metallic noises of “Pictures of You.” The album follows the same basic trajectory, delivering song after song of revamped ’80s-inspired reminiscence.

Here, “4:13 Dream” falls into an unfortunate predicament by attempting to recreate the music of the band’s past; The Cure unintentionally juxtaposes its latest album with its greatest hits album. Sadly, “4:13 Dream” fails by no fault of its own — the tracks are catchy and, in some cases, genuinely beautiful. The highlight of the album, “Sirensong,” tells of an acidic but inescapable relationship: “Give me your life / Or I must fly away / And you will never hear this song again,” frontman Robert Smith bemoans.

While this song represents the best of “4:13 Dream,” it is still defined by The Cure’s past canon. Though enjoyable on its own, when compared to the hits of previous decades, it falls short of expectations. The similarities between albums force an unfair comparison in which the old songs are just too good for the new ones to leave an impression. As the latest addition to The Cure’s discography, “4:13 Dream” is a younger sibling frantically fumbling in the footsteps of an older, more beloved brother.

Though marred by an unfair comparison to previous hits, on grey, mist-blurred mornings, “4:13 Dream” still offers a moving, albeit second-hand, experience.

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