The Cure's new record is its first since Robert Smith disbanded the group following 2000's underrated Bloodflowers, and it was produced by Ross Robinson, whose résumé includes work for Slipknot, Korn and Vanilla Ice. But worry not: The self-titled return sounds almost exactly like a Cure record should -- almost, because Smith hasn't written a blissfully danceable new-wave smash like "Just Like Heaven" or "Boys Don't Cry" since the '80s. But Cure fans are used to that by now.
Robinson does what a good producer should, kicking the goth icon in the arse every time things get slow and sludgy. A big-time fan, the nü-metal maestro fuses the coarse texture of the Cure's early post-punk material with its late-era hash haze. Awash in distortion, the trippy disc eschews the toothless psychedelia that made the band's most popular albums and accompanying tours so damn dull.
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"Us or Them" is far from rage rock, though it certainly reads like a Slipknot lyric: "I don't want you anywhere near me / Get your fucking world out of my head," yowls Smith, falsetto, between feline yelps. The singer spends a good deal of the album paraphrasing himself, delivering variations of the lyric "I couldn't ever love you more" ("The End of the World" and "[I Don't Know What's Going] On," among others). And that's okay. As the alt-goth icon says in "Labyrinth": "It's the same house / But nothing in the house has changed." Welcome home, Bob.