Utterly brilliant band, perfectly reasonable box set...
There probably has never been a band so recognisably helped and hindered by their image as The Cure. Robert Smith’s fingers-in-some-fucking-big-sockets hair and lazy slash of lipstick are among the most easily identifiable brandings in the history of music, but his darkly, wonderfully psychedelic pop spent so many years draped in shapeless black that his cause was swallowed up almost exclusively by teenage Goths with a powerful hard-on for Camus and crimping irons. I know because I was one. But there’s so much more to The Cure than unnaturally pale people with ill-fitting jumpers trying to look miserable, and finally now, with a new generation of bands like Hot Hot Heat and The Rapture singing their praises, The Cure seem destined to be appreciated as an era-defining alternative pop group easily as important as The Smiths or New Order. This collection however, is not the place for you to start.
The B-Sides compilation is, generally speaking, reserved for saddle-sniffing obsessives and this is – understandably – no different. So for every burst of sparklingly dizzy gear like ‘The Exploding Boy’, ‘Plastic Passion’ or ‘How Beautiful You Are’ there are teeth-grating experiments in noodle-doodle atmospheria like ‘Splintered In Her Head’, ‘Fear Of Ghosts’ or ‘Dredd Song’ and a few other moments like ‘To The Sky’ or ‘Halo’ that were quite nice and everything but just didn’t really cut the A-Side mustard. Ultimately though, even non A-Side Cure is still worth ten of most other bands, especially when Smith hits his golden era between 1987 and 1992 and tracks like the wasted, wounded ‘A Chain Of Flowers’, the ridiculously perky, extended mix of ‘Hey You!!!’, and the ‘Dizzy’ mix of ‘Just Like Heaven’ (which is unforgivably shoddy, but still a withered limb to possibly Smith’s best ever song) reveal a man so willingly emotional, so eager to highlight the good and the bad parts of his own life that the cold crumbs many other songwriters offer look like a sick and sad joke in comparison.
Brilliant band then, not so brilliant boxset. Save your money for the re-issues that will no doubt appear when the band return with a new album later this year.
Get ‘Talkie Walkie’ at the NME Shop