Bloodflowers

The Cure 

Bloodflowers

The Cure
Bloodflowers
(Elektra)

Every Cure fan knows the band works best when leader Robert Smith is dismal and morose -- none of that "Friday I'm in Love" crap. Disintegration (1987) could be the best breakup album ever made -- its fits of sorrow and remorse are drowned out by wailing guitars and desolate lyrics. In that regard, Bloodflowers, the Cure's 11th studio album and possibly final release -- the last installment of a trilogy that began in 1982 with Pornography and was followed by Disintegration -- is well worth the time and investment. That is, if you are currently toiling with love-lost emotion or can relate to the pain. Suffice to say, Smith is back to his gloomy self.

Creepy beats, ethereal soundscapes, and circus-like effects drag Bloodflowers along as if it has the world on its shoulders. Nearing 40, Smith, once the poster child of the Goth scene, may be questioning whether he still has the dysfunctional touch. Thankfully, he does. "Out of This World" begins the show with a slow, languid feel not far removed from Disintegration's "Pictures of You." After this, the band quickly rebounds with "Watching Me Fall." At over 11 minutes, Perry Bamonte's guitar onslaught is filled with distortion and grinding chords, while a cynical Smith chimes "I've been watching me fall for it seems like years/Watching me grow small/I watch me disappear." Eventually blistering into a twirling, wailing guitar display of degradation, this track quickly reestablishes the Cure's unique ability to turn emotion into a visceral experience. Smith's self-examination continues on "The Last Day of Summer," as a gently strummed, jangly guitar melody -- complete with airy, simplistic keyboard notes -- offers sanctuary from the earlier frenetic storm.

With a similar mindset as Disintegration, Bloodflowers is about as welcoming as a rainy day. Still, it plays out like an old friend who understands your sorrows. No, Bloodflowers won't relaunch the Cure's career, but it does act as a perfect ending. And whether that's to a trilogy or a career, it's been a good ride. -- John Benson

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