Gloom. During The Cure’s entire thirty-plus-year career, frontman Robert Smith and his revolving door of backing musicians have vacillated between wallowing in it and doing everything in their power to distance themselves from it. And while they’ve never been able to completely lose the melancholy tag, they’ve repeatedly succeeded in making their emotional offerings resonate with millions.
Having been absent from São Paulo stages since 1996, The Cure finally return on April 2013 with a massive three-hour set spanning both the wide-eyed highs and heartbreakingly morose lows of their extensive discography.
Often regarded as the living symbol of alternative rock’s first wave and pigeonholed as the poster boy for alienated, suicidal teens everywhere, Smith’s signature look of voluminous tussled hair and a stark made-up face may be partially to blame for The Cure’s enduring forlorn image – his unmistakeable style and wistful demeanour were the inspiration for Tim Burton’s Edward Scissorhands and Sean Penn’s depressed ex-rock star Cheyenne, from the 2011 dramedy This Must Be the Place.
Regardless of their repeated attempts at bouncy pop, there’s no denying The Cure’s guilt: they’re responsible for the sparsely arranged and lyrically bleak early ’80s goth rock staples like Seventeen Seconds, Faith and Pornography, as well as the unintentional commercial juggernaut Disintegration (1989) that succeeded on the back of hits like the desperate, longing ‘Lovesong’ and the nightmarish murder tale, ‘Lullaby’.
But for all the famous dirges, chief songwriter Smith has tried taking his big-haired head bopping through many other divergent upbeat and gleeful musical avenues, dating back to 1983’s single ‘The Love Cats’ and carried on with records like Kiss Me, Kiss Me, Kiss Me (1987) and Wish (1992), with the latter best remembered for the joyful smash ‘Friday I’m in Love’.
Musically, The Cure’s latest album, 2008’s 4:13 Dream doesn’t break any new ground, but instead retreads the band’s favoured paths, sticking with their wavering guitar and dreamy bass approach. The record’s singles will likely earn a spot or two in their upcoming show’s setlist, among classics like ‘In Between Days’ and ‘Just Like Heaven’ – a romantic track that still sounds particularly sad within its major key. Call it the British-boy blues or an old-fashioned self-pity party, but sometimes it just feels good to feel so bad.