My friend Nelson does concrete for a living and is a pretty gnarly drummer; like, big, thudding, John Bonham drums. He is kind of a “tough guy.” That’s why I was so surprised when, years into our friendship, he “came out of the closet” and admitted that he was a huge Cure fan. I was too! It is not always cool to admit you like the Cure. Maybe it is the association with moping goth kids or the silly imagery or Robert Smith all covered in makeup and acting like a sad, sad girl, but sometimes you have to keep your Cure love on the down-low.
They have been making great music for 30 years though, so there is no reason to be too ashamed of yourself for liking them. Who among us has not pretended at one time or another that they were dancing awkwardly on a cliff above the ocean with a head full of hairspray and pancake makeup pining away for the love of some girl, like in that Just Like Heaven video? None of us, that is who. 4:13 Dream was originally recorded as a double album, with one side half being the happy, poppy Cure and the other half being the depressed, run a warm bath and sharpen your razor Cure.
I’m a fan of both iterations, but the band decided to keep the upbeat material for 4:13 Dream and release the downer stuff at a later date. It’s a pretty solid, if not especially groundbreaking album, but after 30 years it’s nice to see Smith still has some emotional and melodic depths left to plumb.
The songs on 4:13 Dream cover some familiar territory for Cure fans—hopeful and bittersweet, with a few quirky numbers that hearken back to late 80’s albums like Kiss Me, Kiss Me, Kiss Me much more than their considerably darker recent albums. Why, it almost sounds as if The Cure is having fun in the studio! I can’t imagine those guys having fun.
Do you think it is fun to party with The Cure? Somehow I think they drink expensive wine and discuss poetry when they party.
At any rate, I would recommend this album to anyone who likes the more upbeat, radio-friendly Cure that became famous in the 80’s and 90s. It’s not great, and there are much more essential albums in their canon, of course, but 4:13 Dream is a pretty satisfying listen. I give it a B-. It should also be noted that as Robert Smith edges closer to 50, he is starting to look really, really creepy in the lipstick and eye shadow, and I’m thinking he could fill in for Heath Ledger if they make another Batman movie. Just throwing that out there.