|By Zach Patterson||Sunday, 14 Dec 2008|
I still maintain, after all the reviews I’ve done for this site, that mediocre music is the hardest thing to review out of any medium. The problem is that it’s hard to come off as either not liking or not hating an album, and sometimes there’s really just not much to say about it. It is what it is, and that’s it. After listening to the new Cure album, 4:13 Dream, off and on for a solid month, I still struggle to come up with a lot to say about it. It’s just mediocre in every respect.
It’s a shame too, because while I initially wasn’t a huge fan of their self-titled 2004 album, that album has really grown on me, to the point where I think my first reaction to it was pretty off-base. And it’s clear that there’s still some good stuff left in Robert Smith’s head, as evidenced by the opening track, “Underneath the Stars”, which sounds like it could easily come from some of the late 80′s/early 90′s output like Disintegration/Wish. It’s got a surreal, relaxed dreamlike vibe to it (hell, it’s even got the star wipe sounds that were used liberally in songs like “Pictures of You”), which fits the title pretty well and got me rather excited to hear the rest of the album.
Unfortunately, the rest of the album really is just kinda…blah. I struggle to really find anything worth commenting on. It’s mostly generic, upbeat British pop music. “The Only One” feels like it really wants to be “Friday I’m In Love”, except it’s not near as catchy, and parts of the song really just stumble and feel out of place (mainly, the part of the song incorporating the title itself). “The Reasons Why” is just bogged down by annoying and lame lyrics from the outset and really lacks anything to distinguish itself. I find similar issues with “The Perfect Boy”, “This. Here and Now. With You.” and “The Hungry Ghost”. None of them are really bad songs, but I can’t see myself actively remembering that song and thinking “man I gotta hear that”.
Now to be fair, there are some above average songs here. “Freakshow”, while it does get tiresome after a few listens, has a nice rocking, dance beat to it, and really gives you a nice creepy carnival type atmosphere. I can’t help but think it would have been an amazing song circa 1987 Cure performing it, but it’s still good. “Sirensong” is a decent, delicate ballad that’s pretty brief and doesn’t overstay its welcome. “Switch”, probably one of the best songs on the album, has a nice feeling of intensity, good lyrics, and isn’t overall foofy happy like a lot of the songs on the album. Finally, the closer “It’s Over” sounds like vintage late 80′s Cure with a lot of energy from both Smith and the band with some great guitar work and aggressive drumming.
So, it’s not really easy to lean one way or the other. There’s kinda above average stuff and kinda below average stuff. Furthermore, while Smith is usually the unquestioned high point of any Cure album, I find some of his vocal indulgences much more annoying here than other albums. Some of his yelps and croons and performances of certain lines just kinda don’t fit or sound like they shouldn’t be there to start with. he’s still got the pipes for it, if the scream he belts out in “The Scream” is any indication, but I felt like some of these songs could have used a different vocal take. All the middling material on the album relays to an (you guessed it) Okay. It’s one of the lesser Cure albums for certain, but it’s decent and has some stuff that’s worth hearing if you are a big Cure fan.