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Eamon Sweeney, 03 Feb 2000
SKIP back ten years and The Cure were the undisputed unofficial poet laureates of doomed adolescent romance. While Morrissey's quivering tones articulated the pains of never having no one ever, Robert Smith's kaleidoscope of melancholic romanticism came from the perspective of getting the girl and being more confused than ever.
Most activity in the nineties was confined to rubber-stamping tracklists for a plethora of live albums and retrospectives in the wake of the phenomenally successful Wish tour. In a desperate smash and grab attempt at seizing a slice of the Britpop cake, they released the poor pop pastiche Wild Mood Swings in 1996, subsequently getting a severe rap on the knuckles from fans and critics alike. The Cure have now returned to doing what they do best - sounding like nobody else does or ever will. Bloodflowers is a textbook example of how they weave a wall of diversely fragile sounds into streamlined melancholic symphonies.
'Watching Me Fall' and the closing title track are the guitar-scorched paeans to frustration that they flirted with but never fully hammered home on Wish. Smith's forceful vocals epitomise the newly found confidence, determination and bloody-mindedness found at the heart of this album. There are no token pop flirtations on the table here, and the closest you have to a single is the whimsical jangle of 'Someday Maybe'.
Of course, a new Cure record wouldn't be complete without the routine 'last album' speculation. "The fire is almost out and there's nothing left to burn/as I run out of thoughts and run right out of words" howls Smith on '39'. However to these ears at least, the tone and intention is far closer to a regeneration through resignation mission statement.
The Cure have chosen to unleash their thirteenth studio album on St. Valentine's Day. So when it comes to wooing and romance this year, say it with Bloodflowers - because as The Undertones once sang, a teenage(romantic)dream is still hard to beat.