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2/21/2000  San Diego On San Diego
The Cure: Bloodflowers

As a "singles band," which one could arguably call the Cure from about the album "Kiss Me Kiss Me Kiss Me" (1987) on, Robert Smith & Co. churned out some jangly staples of alt-rock radio ("Why Can' t I Be You?," "Just Like Heaven," "Lovesong," "Friday I' m In Love," "Mint Car," et. al.), with a few nods to the Brit group' s long-chronicled dark side ("Fascination Street," "Lullaby," "Strange Attraction"). Not surprisingly, the Cure' s last "studio" release was "Galore," in ' 97, a collection of its post-' 87 singles (plus one new track, the mischievous "Wrong Number").

But diehard fans of the Cure (yes, many of them still exist) have been waiting -- while probably fearing that the group might disband -- for a return to the era of "Faith," "Pornography" and "The Head on the Door," pre-' 87 works that found the band experimenting sonically and rooted in introspection (and sometimes melancholia).

"Bloodflowers," the Cure' s first full album of original material since "Wild Mood Swings" in ' 96, echoes the band' s definitive creative period, when Robert Smith defined ' 80s-bred alienation for English and American fans alike.

The current Cure lineup (Smith, bassist Simon Gallup, guitarist Perry Bamonte, keyboardist Roger O' Donnell and drummer Jason Cooper) is the strongest technically in the band' s 24-year history. "Bloodflowers" teems with mesmerizing, multi-textured music. The album' s first two offerings, the lovely, ambient ballad "Out of This World" and the pile-driving, 11-minute-long "Watching Me Fall," represent the Cure at its otherworldly, ironical best.

Smith is at once wistful and rueful on "The Last Day of Summer," philosophical on "Where the Birds Always Sing," even excusably corny on "There Is No If ...". And "Bloodflowers," the title track, is a morbidly romantic, typically-Cure antidote to post-Valentine' s Day euphoria.

You want happily ever after, get yourself a Celine Dion album.

- David L. Coddon


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