The Cure -Bio
Out of all the bands that emerged in the immediate aftermath of punk rock in the late '70s, the Cure was one of the most enduring and popular. Led through numerous incarnations by guitarist/vocalist Robert Smith (born April 21, 1959), the band became notorious for their slow, gloomy dirges and Smith's ghoulish appearance. But the public image often hid the diversity of the Cure's music. At the outset, they played jagged, edgy pop songs and they slowly evolved into a more textured outfit. As one of the bands that laid the seeds for goth rock, the group created towering layers of guitars and synthesizers, but by the time goth caught on in the mid-'80s, the Cure had moved away from the genre. By the end of the '80s, the Cure had crossed over into the mainstream not only in their native England, but also in the United States and in various parts of Europe.
Originally called the Easy Cure, the band was formed in 1976 by schoolmates Robert Smith (vocals, guitar), Michael Dempsey (bass), and Laurence "Lol" Tolhurst (drums). Initially, the group was playing dark, nervy guitar pop with pseudo-literary lyrics, as evidenced by the Albert Camus-inspired "Killing an Arab." A demo tape, featuring "Killing an Arab," arrived in the hands of Chris Parry, an A&R representative at Polydor Records; by the time he received the tape, the band's name had been truncated to the Cure. Parry was impressed with the song and arranged for its release on the independent label Small Wonder in December 1978. Early in 1979, Parry left Polydor to form his own record label, Fiction, and the Cure was one of the first bands he signed to the label. "Killing an Arab" was re-released in February of 1979, and the Cure set out on their first tour of England. The Cure's debut album, Three Imaginary Boys, was released in May 1979 to good reviews in the British music press. Later that year, the group released the non-LP singles "Boys Don't Cry" and "Jumping Someone Else's Train." That same year, the Cure embarked on a major tour with Siouxsie & the Banshees. During the tour, the Banshees' guitarist, John McKay, left the group and Robert Smith stepped in for the missing musician; for the next decade or so, Smith would frequently collaborate with members of the Banshees.
At the end of 1979, the Cure released a single, "I'm a Cult Hero," under the name the Cult Heroes. Following the release of the single, Dempsey left the band to join the Associates. Dempsey was replaced by Simon Gallup at the beginning of 1980. At the same time, the Cure added a keyboardist, Matthieu Hartley, to their lineup. The band's second album, Seventeen Seconds, was released in the spring of 1980. The addition of a keyboardist expanded the group's sound; it was now more experimental, and frequently they would immerse themselves in slow, gloomy dirges. Nevertheless, the band still wrote pop hooks, as demonstrated by the group's first U.K. hit single, "A Forest," which peaked at number 31. After the release of Seventeen Seconds, the Cure began their first world tour. Following the Australian leg of the tour, Matthieu Hartley left the band and the group chose to continue without him. In 1981, they released their third album, Faith, which peaked at number 14 in the charts and spawned the minor hit single "Primary." The Cure's fourth album, the doom-laden, introspective Pornography, was released in 1982. Pornography expanded their cult audience even further and it cracked the U.K. Top Ten. After the Pornography tour was completed, Simon Gallup quit the band and Lol Tolhurst moved from drums to keyboards. At the end of 1982, the Cure released a new single, the dance-tinged "Let's Go to Bed."
Robert Smith devoted most of the beginning of 1983 to Siouxsie & the Banshees, recording the Hyaena album with the group and appearing as the band's guitarist on the album's accompanying tour. Smith also formed a band with Banshees bassist Steve Severin called the Glove that same year. The Glove released their only album, Blue Sunshine, later in 1983. By the late summer of 1983, a new version of the Cure -- featuring Smith, Tolhurst, drummer Andy Anderson, and bassist Phil Thornalley -- was assembled and they recorded a new single, the jaunty "The Lovecats." The song was released in the fall of 1983 and became the group's biggest hit to date, peaking at number seven on the U.K. charts. The new lineup of the Cure released The Top in 1984. Despite the pop leanings the number 14 hit "The Caterpillar," The Top was a return to the bleak soundscapes of Pornography. During the world tour supporting The Top, Anderson was fired from the band. In early 1985, following the completion of the tour, Thornalley left the band. The Cure revamped their lineup after his departure, adding drummer Boris Williams, guitarist Porl Thompson, and bassist Simon Gallup. Later in 1985, the Cure released their sixth album, The Head on the Door. The album was the most concise and pop-oriented record the group had ever released, which helped send it into the U.K. Top Ten and to number 59 in the U.S., the first time the band had broken the American Hot 100. "In Between Days" and "Close to Me" -- both pulled from The Head on the Door -- became sizable U.K. hits, as well as popular underground and college radio hits in the U.S.
The Cure followed the breakthrough success of The Head on the Door in 1986 with the compilation Standing on a Beach: The Singles. Standing on a Beach reached number four in the U.K., but more importantly it established the band as a major cult act in the U.S.; the album peaked at number 48 and went gold within a year. In short, Standing on a Beach set the stage for 1987's double album Kiss Me, Kiss Me, Kiss Me. The album was eclectic but it was a hit, spawning four hit singles in the U.K. ("Why Can't I Be You," "Catch," "Just Like Heaven," "Hot Hot Hot!!!") and the group's first American Top 40 hit, "Just Like Heaven." Following the supporting tour for Kiss Me, Kiss Me, Kiss Me, the Cure's activity slowed to a halt. Before the Cure began working on their new album in early 1988, the band fired Lol Tolhurst, claiming that relations between him and the rest of the band had been irrevocably damaged. Tolhurst would soon file a lawsuit, claiming that his role in the band was greater than stated in his contract and, consequently, he deserved more money.
In the meantime, the Cure replaced Tolhurst with former Psychedelic Furs keyboardist Roger O'Donnell and recorded their eighth album, Disintegration. Released in the spring of 1989, the album was more melancholy than its predecessor, but it was an immediate hit, reaching number three in the U.K. and number 14 in the U.S., and spawning a series of hit singles. "Lullaby" became the group's biggest British hit in the spring of 1989, peaking at number five. In the late summer, the band had their biggest American hit with "Lovesong," which climbed to number two. On the Disintegration tour, the Cure began playing stadiums across the U.S. and the U.K. In the fall of 1990, the Cure released Mixed Up, a collection of remixes featuring a new single, "Never Enough."
Following the Disintegration tour, Roger O'Donnell left the band and the Cure replaced him with their roadie, Perry Bamonte. In the spring of 1992, the band released Wish. Like Disintegration, Wish was an immediate hit, entering the British charts at number one and the American charts at number two, as well as launching the hit singles "High" and "Friday I'm in Love." The Cure embarked on another international tour after the release of Wish. One concert, performed in Detroit, was documented on a film called Show and on two albums, Show and Paris. The movie and the albums were released in 1993.
Porl Thompson left the band in 1993 to join Jimmy Page and Robert Plant's band. After his departure, Roger O'Donnell rejoined the band as a keyboardist, and Perry Bamonte switched from synthesizers to guitars. During most of 1993 and early 1994, the Cure was sidelined by the then-ongoing lawsuit from Lol Tolhurst. Following the settlement in the band's favor in the fall of 1994, the group was set to record a follow-up album to Wish, but drummer Boris Williams quit just as they were about to begin the record. The Cure recruited a new drummer through advertisements in the British music papers; by the spring of 1995, Jason Cooper had replaced Williams. Throughout 1995, the Cure recorded their tenth proper studio album, pausing to perform a handful of European musical festivals in the summer. The album, titled Wild Mood Swings, was finally released in the spring of 1996. A second singles collection, 1997's Galore, yielded the new "Wrong Number," and the original album Bloodflowers followed in early 2000. An all-encompassing Cure retrospective entitled Greatest Hits, which included two brand new songs, was issued in fall 2001. The band returned with another original album, self-titled, released in 2004. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine, All Music Guide.
For a long time, maybe 15 years or so, Robert Smith rumbled about the Cure's imminent retirement whenever the band had a new album ready for release. Invariably, Smith said the particular album served as a fitting epitaph, and it was now time for him to bring the Cure to an end and pursue something else, maybe a solo career, maybe a new band, maybe nothing else. This claim carried some weight when it was supporting a monumental exercise in dread, like Disintegration or Bloodflowers, but when applied to Wild Mood Swings, it seemed like no more than an empty threat, so fans played along with the game until Smith grew tired of it, abandoning it upon the 2004 release of his band's eponymous 13th album. Instead of being a minor shift in marketing, scrapping his promise to disband the Cure is a fairly significant development since it signals that Smith is comfortable being in the band, perhaps for the first time in his life. This sense of peace carries over into the modest and modestly titled The Cure, which contains the most comfortable music in the band's canon -- which is hardly the same thing as happy music, even if this glistens in contrast to the deliberate goth classicism of Bloodflowers. Where that record played as a self-conscious effort to recreate the band's gloomy heyday, this album is the sound of a band relaxing, relying on instinct to make music. The Cure was recorded and released quickly -- the liner notes state it was recorded in the spring of 2004, and it was released weeks later, at the end of June -- and while it never sounds hurried, it never seems carefully considered either, since it lacks either a thematic or musical unity that usually distinguish the band's records. It falls somewhere between these two extremes, offering both towering minor-key epics like the closing "The Promise" and light pop like "The End of the World." It's considerably more colorful than its monochromatic predecessor, and the rapid recording gives the album a warmth that's pleasing, even if it inadvertently emphasizes the familiarity of the material. Which is ultimately the record's Achilles' heel: the Cure have become journeymen, for better and worse, turning out well-crafted music that's easy to enjoy yet not all that compelling either. It's not a fatal flaw, since the album is a satisfying listen and there's also a certain charm in hearing a Cure that's so comfortable in its own skin, but it's the kind of record that sits on the shelves of die-hard fans, only occasionally making its way to the stereo.
The Cure edged into new territory with Wild Mood Swings, but nevertheless drew scorn from certain quarters because it eschewed goth rock for pop, both pure and twisted. For 2000's Bloodflowers, Robert Smith decided to give the people what they wanted: a classic Cure album, billed as the third part of a trilogy begun with Pornography and continued with Disintegration. That turns out to be more or less true, since Bloodflowers boasts all of the Cure's signatures: stately tempos, languid melodies, spacious arrangements, cavernous echoes, morose lyrics, keening vocals, long running times. If that's all you're looking for, Bloodflowers delivers in spades. If you want something transcendent, you're out of luck, since the album falls short of the mark, largely because it sounds too self-conscious. As one song segues into the next, it feels like Smith is striving to make a classic Cure record, putting all the sounds in place before he constructs the actual songs. That makes for a good listening experience, especially for fans of Disintegration, but it never catches hold the way that record did, for two simple reasons: there isn't enough variation between the songs for them to distinguish themselves, nor are there are enough sonic details to give individual tracks character. While Disintegration had goth monoliths, it also had pristine pop gems and elegant neo-psychedelia; with a couple of exceptions, the songs on Bloodflowers all feel like cousins of "Pictures of You." The album is certainly well made, and even enjoyable; however, its achievement is a bit hollow, since it never seems like Smith is pushing himself or the band. Nobody else can come close to capturing the Cure's graceful gloom, but it's hard to shake the suspicion that Bloodflowers could have been something grand if he had shaken up the formula slightly.
Wild Mood Swings***(1996)
After the relatively straightforward pop of Wish, the Cure moved back toward stranger, edgier territory with Wild Mood Swings. Actually, that's only part of the truth. As the title suggests, there's a vast array of textures and emotions on Wild Mood Swings, from the woozy mariachi lounge horns of "The 13th" to the perfect pop of "Mint Car" and the monolithic dirge of "Want." In between the extremes, Robert Smith and the Cure -- which now feature a radically reworked lineup, with several key players from Wish now missing -- explore some simpler territory, from contemplative acoustic numbers tinged with strings to swooning neo-psychedelia. But what ties it all together is conviction -- Smith sounds more content than he ever has, but he sings with more passion than he has for a number of years. Of course, the Cure haven't significantly changed their sound -- tinny synthesizers and guitar effects that haven't appeared on an album since 1988 are in abundance throughout the record -- but the variety of sounds and strength of performance offers enough surprises to make Wild Mood Swings more than just another Cure record.
Stephen Thomas Erlewine, All Music Guide
On the surface, Wish sounds happier than Disintegration, and the sunny British Invasion hooks of the hit single "Friday I'm in Love" certainly seem to indicate that the record is a brighter affair than its predecessor. Dig a little deeper and the album reveals itself to be just as tortured, and perhaps more despairing. Granted, the sound of the record, with its jangling guitars and simple arrangements, is more immediately accessible than the epic gloom of Disintegration, but nearly every song finds Robert Smith wracked with depression. Unfortunately, the even-handed production makes the record sound very similar, so it is less compelling than it might have been, but there are a handful of gems ("High," "A Letter to Elise," "Wendy Time," "Friday I'm in Love") that make the record worthwhile.
\"I will miss Tim Leary...he believed..as i do that after midnight, all things are possible.\" - Hunter S. Thompson