4:13 Dream (Suretone / Geffen)
Reviewed by Raoul Hernandez, Fri., Nov. 21, 2008
The Cure4:13 Dream (Suretone/Geffen)
Stasis generally suspends the law of diminishing returns in the uppermost strata of classic rock acts. Once the ultimate masterpiece ascends – Exile on Main St, Back in Black, Disintegration – even the music gods require a miraculous harmonic convergence to reel off a four-star album late in life (Dylan's Time Out of Mind). Rule of thumb usually dictates three strong mixtape additions per release over the next 20 to 30 years. The Cure inventor Robert Smith remains almost immune to studio dilapidation, but if lucky No. 4:13 Dream could never hope to equal the seminal goth pop of Three Imaginary Boys (1979), Pornography (1982), and/or Kiss Me Kiss Me Kiss Me (1987) by design of natural evolution, neither is it the Wild Mood Swings of the post-Disintegration (1989) paradigm. 2004's eponymous Dream precursor proclaimed "The End of the World" with typically Smithian apocalypto, and the fire still burns here, only in hook up ("Sirensong") not break down. Musically, the languid phosphorescence of opener "Underneath the Stars" ("floating here like this with you ...") picks up where 2000's sodden Bloodflowers left off, except its lyrical bent is immediately buttressed by the Kiss Me Kiss Me Kiss Me of "The Only One." Despite the opening declaration of "I won't try to bring you down about my suicide," even Dream's lithe three spot, "The Reasons Why," belies the silence of a breakup with well-known birds on a wire. "Freak Show" reaches back to the band's late-1970s herk and jerk in its jaunty syncopation. The Dream gets a bit fuzzy midway, the melodic seeds of "The Real Snow White" never properly sown and Smith's front-and-center vocals overpowering the song's underdeveloped through line. Ditto for "The Hungry Ghost," which again finds the maple syrup of pop criers in exceptional voice on a track that never fully materializes. First, best, and hopefully last Cure back draft Porl Thompson ignites one of his trademark Hendrix maelstroms on the all-too-brief "Switch," while turning up his guitar would have electrified otherwise zippy highlight "Sleep When I'm Dead." Closer "It's Over" rages like the beginning. The Dream ain't over.