Call me daft if you wish, but Robert Smith is a hero. Why? Because he is one of the few musicians from my childhood to withstand the test of time, whilst keeping his persona intact. And I’ve always admired the celebs that have an amazing career and life, while being able to (mostly) keep out of the spotlight of shame.
If you haven’t figured out by now who Robert Smith is, he’s the lead singer of the British band The Cure. Remember them from the 80’s? They are the ones responsible for bringing us such delightful songs as Close to Me, Boys Don’t Cry, Disintegration, Friday I’m in Love, Lovesong (yeah 311 didn’t write that one folks),Why Can’t I Be With You?, Lullaby, Fascination Street, and The Love Cats… The latter four being my favorites of long time past.
Smith is the only constant member of the band, since its inception in 1976. This time around though, the line-up consists of Robert Smith on the mic (also the guitar, bass and keyboards when needed), Simon Gallup (another musical hero of mine) on bass, Porl Thompson on Guitar, and Jason Cooper on the drums. The boys from Crawley, England released their 13th studio album, in 2008 entitled 4:13 Dream.
Apparently, 4:13 Dream was originally intended to be a two-disc album, having a whopping 33 songs recorded songs for the release. Robert Smith said that this album would mostly comprise the upbeat songs, and that the darker songs would maybe be released on another album. This is good for two reasons I believe: First, I believe that there is music for every mood, and that The Cure has done a surprisingly good job at making me feel more upbeat (take The Love Cats for instance on the album Japanese Whispers), and second because this means that we have not seen the end of The Cure.
Through the bands MySpace page, the band announced that in the four months before the album was set to be released, every thirteenth day of the month, a single would be released. This would coincide with the album’s title. Unfortunately, the album was pushed back from September 13th, to October 28th by Geffen Records, killing the amazing idea. But to make up for this, on September 13th, the band released the EP Hypnagogic States. This EP was a cd of the remixes of the four singles released in the previous months.
Anywho, I’ll end my usual digression and get down to the nitty. Here’s what I can say about the album from a general standpoint: Old fans of The Cure will feel right at home, as the band keeps its same vibe of calm but complicated, while showcasing that the band hasn’t stopped moving forward since its creation almost 30 years ago. Robert Smith still has that wild singing structure that hasn’t made a compromise for, despite the flak he may have gotten over the years for it.
For the new listeners, I can say that this is as good a time as any to get into The Cure, and still feel like you are a fan of times past. Why you say? According to Robert, 4:13 Dream is chock full of songs that were written over a decade ago, that didn’t make the cut for other albums at the time (such as Sleep When I’m Dead, originally written for the album, The Head on the Door in 1985). This way you can feel at least semi nostalgic, and not lie to you and your friends when you claim “Yeah I’m a fan of their old stuff too”.
Some people feel as if this cd was taking the safe road in its production, but I think this is just as Cure-ish as anything. As my fellow writer Gunfart said, “So this album is basically The Head on the Door part 2”. The production seemed much better than past albums in my opinion, probably because I’m used to listening to the 80’s songs of theirs, and frankly, recording technology has advanced just a bit.
As far as my favorite tracks are concerned, the intro track Underneath the Stars was amazing, with pure instrumentals for the first two minutes. The guitar on track 7, The Hungry Ghost was very comfortable for me, and carries the song beautifully. Track 11, Sleep When I’m Dead may have been written for an album over 20 years ago, but it’s right at home on this album. I didn’t know it was an old song until after I was in love with it, but my feelings have not strayed. The 12th track on the album, Scream, was interesting, because I felt like it had a Middle Eastern tone in it. Weird I know, but I was diggin’ it and don’t disagree. Still though, the song that made this album one of the best of the year for me is track 8, called Switch. For me, it managed to be upbeat, dark, and beautiful all the same time. The lyrics are some of the best Robert has written, and are the definition of feeling, without leaving you asking what it’s about. Listen for the subtle piano played by Smith throughout the song, to remind you that as “sick of being alone with himself” as Robert is, the song is something I don’t plan on being sick of anytime soon.
4:13 Dream is what making a legacy is all about. Old bands like The Cure are keeping it more fresh and exciting than the failed marriages of Southern California, with twice the work. Go grab this album; it may very well save you. You can thank me later.