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1/1/1986  Star Hits

As if terrified of alienating their audiences, major rock radio stations often appear to avoid any music thatís new. Thatís why most people know very little about the Cure, on of the best British rock bands of recent years. But even if your tuner canít pull in one of those college radio stations where the Cure often tops the play list, you can catch up with them through the 13 fine songs on this retrospective album. It holds together better than most greatest hits albums because the chronologically ordered songs progress though various styles while showing consistent precision. Killing An Arab, for instance, a 1979 tune based on Albert Camusí novel The Stranger, has a spare, New Wave sound. Every bass note and percussive ping stands out. On later cuts lead singer Robert Smithís plaintive vocals develop from reedy to resonant and the bandís music becomes more dense. The vaguely Oriental Hanging Garden (1982) includes warlike pounding on the drums and flutelike synthesizer harmonics. The album concludes with two 1985 songs that demonstrate the Cureís brighter pop style. Close To Me, with whispered vocals, a staccato beat and snappy synth riffs, has a gut-punch impact at a volume one-tenth the level of other dance songs. The only drawback to Standing On A Beach is the pressure it puts on the Cure. It will be hard for their next album to match the quality of this package.

- Michael Small


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