Gloom rock feels right at home in 2004, at least when the Cure is doling out ambivalent longings and rage.
The gods of Goth make a strong if not airtight case for second acts in their new, self-titled album, their first collection of new material since 2000’s “Bloodflowers.”
The rotating band of “mates” led by lead singer Robert Smith, never gained the kind of big band traction U2 or R.E.M. got during the alternative ‘80s. Tell that to the mascara-streaked girls — and boys — who found the group’s pop-inflected musings as captivating as Mr. Smith’s electrified hairstyle.
Now, the band looks to re-enter the scene and the occasionally dreary but insistent new album could go a long way toward that end. Unless, that is, today’s angst-driven teens mind hearing their existential fears laid bare by a gaggle of fortysomethings.
The band hasn’t made it any easier for itself by depriving their new album of a can’t-miss hit, like “Friday I’m in Love” or “Just Like Heaven.”
The first single, “The End of the World,” will have to do. The track returns us to Mr. Smith’s quivery vocals, which can shift from whispery to defiant in a blink.
“Never’s” insistent rhythm section powers its take on a push/pull romance that ultimately collapses on itself. “Labyrinth” seems boilerplate Cure until a steaming guitar chord gives it new life. “Us or Them” serves as the sole stinker, a profanity-laced therapy session bereft of melody.
Even at its low points, the album doesn’t feel trapped in another era. Producer Ross Robinson (Korn, Slipknot), a longtime Cure devotee, straddles past and present with an urgency that strips away any thoughts of cashing in.
The band’s lyrics remain the same trippy take on the torturous bonds of love, much of which defies interpretation.
“I can’t find myself…I got lost in someone else,” Mr. Smith sings on the first track, “Lost.”
After a few spins of the band’s latest effort, it seems the Cure has found itself anew.