If there's anything here to surprise the listener, it's the fact that it all hangs together so convincingly. As for the actual A to B of how it sounds, well, that's not much of a surprise at all, to be honest. Of course it was going to sound like this. Throw Robert Smith and Ross Robinson into a studio and this is the kind of nonsense you would assume they would create.
It's an album that grows somewhat upon repeated listening, like the new record by Jesse Malin what The Duke waxed so eloquently regarding a few days ago. The difference is that Malin's record eventually appears much more straight-forward than the production would initially suggest. Here, it's the opposite sort of shindig, with what at first appears to be all stripped-back, raw and so on, actually being something of a façade, masking the wealth of intricacies that eventually pop up in the mix.
It's like one of those magic eye pictures, except instead of getting a headache and seeing a donkey after forty hours, you get some brilliant tunes revealed to you. You might still end up with the headache, though. I mean shit, this gets pretty loud at times.
There are nods to the indulgences of old, most notably in the ten minute finale, The Promise. Sure, maybe it's all the musically ingenious in the world, but I'm fucked if I could remember much of a damn thing about it after it was finished, other than that it was very long, and sounded like something from Wish, one of the tracks you skip past in order to get to Friday I'm In Love, but what you still put down as one of your Favourite Cure Recordings Ever if anyone asks.
Friday I'm In Love? Fuck off, man, you wanna hear some of those ambient b-sides what stretch out for twenty-two minutes, is what. I mean, really, man, what kind of sheep are you anyhow?
The Cure isn't really a return to form, since the band have never really been especially far from The Form in the first place. It certainly sounds more passionate than the last few releases, up to and including liberal spatterings of fuck-words here and there. It's less indulgent, some of the stuff even hinting at a kind of brevity. It also makes those claims about how Goth The Cure are sound even more ridiculous. The songwriting wonderments on display here and throughout their back catalogue are beyond anything ever attempted by, I dunno, The Merciful Sisters or whoever. All those other folks what sing about the despair, medieval England and so on.