George Starostin's Reviews



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Marcus <> (10.09.2005)

A quintessential London mood permeates the Cure. They conjure up the city streets of interminable darkness, rain, gloomy gray days punctuated by wonderful sun, warmth and excitement. At times long operatic screams, and hypnotic drones lull the listener into false securities. The interior soundscapes can fill up cavernous spaces of empty psyche. Plenty of Kafkaesque nightmares and Dostoevsky moments.


Rich Bunnell <> (21.03.2001)

Ah, I think I'll check today's daily updates at George Starostin's webpOHMYGODGEORGEISREVIEWINGTHECURE

...Anyway, I've only heard the American version of this album, Boys Don't Cry and though it's less structurally solid, the two singles really make it worth it. I can't rate it, though, because I don't remember how any of the other songs go (besides "Plastic Passion" and "Fire In Cairo") but I remember really liking it.

So I'll just use this space to talk about the Cure. I like the Cure. A lot of people don't, calling Robert Smith whiny and the songwriting inconsistent. That's true if you're talking about their "goth" period, but from 1985 onwards, when they "sold out"(stupid phrase, really), they really gained proficiency that they had lacked earlier. The band is solid, the mopey hooks are catchy - I dig it!

Puppeteer <> (18.04.2001)

As both a great fan of The Cure and this page, I couldn't help but to write something out. Well I totally agree with the score (I would have agreed a 4 stars too). The key to follow The Cure I think, is to appreciate that subtle 'tame' way (as described above) the songs are arranged. I have to say their sometimes exaggerated simplicity and monotony got me really bored when hearing them for the first time; but once I got into their style, any other rock band sounded noisy and...kind of brutal to me. Meaning that Smith would absolutely avoid any distorted-noisy-guitar that could sound over the rest of the instruments with...nothing much but noise to give (at least on the early years he did avoid that). And we have as a result really interesting  guitar-bass interactions on the songs. That would take me to talk about Michael Dempsey (bass player), which wasn't named on this review, and I think he truly deserves it. Because I think he's the best perfomer The Cure's ever had (after Smith I mean): adding some great bass lines and little loops of improvisation (like on 'It's not you', 'Grinding Halt' or 'Object'). Of course he never sounded spectacular, but of course he was adapted to The Cure's style and personality, which I could describe as "few notes, but accurate please". He left the band after this record, on what he would describe as a 'clash of personalities' (more like a clash of egos to me). And that was it for him. Too bad.

Man, why don't you mention '10:15' and 'Three Imaginary boys', I gotta object that too! Those are great songs!

Andrew <> (23.02.2002)

Robert Smith did not provide vocals for this track ("Foxy Lady"), Dempsey (the then bassist) did. smith refused to sing someone elses song at that time.

Lee MCDAID <> (27.11.2002)

sorry, i've just scrolled down the page and seen that someone has already pointed out that micheal dempsy sang foxy lady. the reason for this is that dempsy wanted to sing a song and smith didn't feel comfortable with someone else singing HIS lyrics....not the other way round.......


Gerard Nowak <> (20.05.2003)

I used to be rather a fan of this band (I mean to the point when they reached Disintegration), now I don't need such music. This album's a bit of a milestone. The gap between 17 Secs and Boys is wider and deeper than between any other two. This is due to:

1)Of course the keyboards. I guess not only the 'Reflection' bit a child could play, there are hardly any synth chords on this album, I guess the harmony on "At Night" was overdubbed rather than played at one go. Yet, yet, the synths seem to work here, they carry the overall aura of sadness rather effectively, so it's no problem.

2)The drums. This is a problem. Now, this isn't that striking, but for me this is the major disappointment against Boys. While on Boys Tolhurst's playing was inventive, here drums seem automatic. With the great exception of "Play for Today" there are about no fills! What happened? Does it have anything to do with Lol becoming more and more an object of derision within the band? I hate the plastic drums on every Cure record, and it started on this very one.

Generally, this is a very listener-unfriendly album with a very limited potential resonance. But it's very even and probably working for those who have pierced through the fasade, seeking various tinges of sadness to relate to. On the universal level, "At Night" seems the best song: great synth theme foreshadowing Dead Can Dance, some interesting guitar and vocals.


Time Inc. <> (16.09.2002)

that special guitar sound you admire on The Cure's FAITH single PRIMARY is actually a bass guitar. More specifically two bass guitars (at least that's what the video of this tune displays.

Marcos Napier <> (12.10.2002)

I was going to post the same comment. Plus, there's a lot of 6-string basses, one of Cure's trademark sounds. And comparing that "guitar" sound to May or Edge or Gilmour, is just absolutely nonsense.

Evan Williams <> (12.12.2002)

Hi george, here in Australia there was a TV music show called Countdown that was on the ABC for decades and on it was played the music of the day. However it started in the days when there were no film clips and so bands played live. The Cure did just that and 'Primary' was the song they played. All that was required was 2 basses and drums , no guitars no synths. And it burnt.The basses were put through a phaser and were perfectly in time with the 'phasing' to get that helicopter sound and god did they thrash those instruments.I would think that anyone who watched Countdown in the eighties (which was just about every aust kid - it was VERY popular) remembers THAT show , these wild looking dudes with spiky black hair, red lipstick and nail polish absolutly playing out of their skins. Great song.

Gerard Nowak <> (20.06.2003)

After a couple of years there's only one song worth returning to, as far as I'm concerned. That's "All the Cats Are Grey", an outstanding one - against a very thick keyboard background Robert Smith doesn't raise his voice to the level of shouting. And at the beginning of the song he doesn't even raise his voice at all! That's all unlike anything else in their early repertoire, and it works.


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<> (30.12.2005)

I am actually unfamiliar with the album, and most or all of its songs. However, as to your comment on the origin of the name "Bananafishbones," I find it likely that it is in fact derived from J. D. Salinger's short story, "A Perfect Day for Bananafish," in which Seymour Glass kills himself, rather than any Tom Waits song. Sounds Smithesque, eh?

Regarding the Cure--a very good pop band. Great life-affirming love songs. Wonderful bouncy happy hooks. WATCH AS I STAIN YOUR IDOLS WITH MAINSTREAM VIABILITY, GOTHS! MUHAHAHAHAHAkoffkoffobligatorykoffingfit.


<> (13.02.2004)

The only ALBUM from these guys that ever did anything for me. Nothing before or afterwards really measured up. 'Nuff said.


Fernando H. Canto <> (18.07.2004)

My LP version includes an extra song, called 'Hey You'. It's nothing to go ape about, though: a 2-minute, silly rock'n'roll throwaway complete with soprano sax, but it's a fun one. Other than that... Well, this album is quite great! Lots of great songs, different sounds... Some of these songs are less likeable, like 'Torture' (with Smith's vocals occupying half of the mix), 'Fight' (that just sounds way too silly) and 'All I Want', but the other are very, very good. 'If Only Tonight We Could Sleep' is absolutely fantastic, easily my favourite of the bunch. 'One More Time' and 'A Thousand Hours' (which has some themes that sound VERY similar to 'Plainsong', don't you think?) are gorgeous ballads. I love 'Like Cockatoos', 'Icing Sugar', 'Just Like Heaven', 'Shiver And Shake' and 'How Beautiful You Are' (that's also similar to 'Love Song', and much better than that one, in my opinion). In all, most songs have something solid to contribute, and it works as a double album. Good onem, and gets a 12 from me.

Alexey Provolotsky <> (04.11.2005)

I got this album (my first and only Cure album, in fact) a couple of days ago and have quite a lovely time listening to it. I would never call it their White Album (and not because it’s worse, but because I don’t feel any diversity here; the band seems to be drowned in their sound), although I do admit it has quite a lot of styles. It’s the same with the Byrds’ 5D. George considers that to be a very diverse record, but for me it doesn’t sound like that. Back to the Cure. The collection is impressive. 17 songs, done so professionally, so wonderfully built, so flawlessly arranged and still so rough. Like George, I love how their songs are structured. Why shouldn’t I, if the instrumental parts are so brainy and cute? Sometimes you get so overwhelmed by those instrumental parts, that when Robert Smith starts to sing, it becomes kinda painful (“Icing Sugar”, “A Thousand Hours” – both are nice!). The minor hits off the record were “Hot! Hot! Hot!”, “Why Can’t I Be You?” (with rather an anticlimactic chorus), both dumb but catchy pop and both sound totally DRUNK, and, of course, “Just Like Heaven”, their undeniable masterpiece. It doesn’t have any breathtaking hook or guitar solo, but the song is simply gorgeous and CLEVER. Speaking about cleverness, listen to “How Beautiful You Are”. The melody is primitive, not a single vocal hook, but the arrangements, mister, the arrangements! Me, I get to Heaven every time Smith sings the line “for the way we are” in the chorus for the second time. It’s God-like, isn’t it?

In general, there is much here to discuss. Every friggin’ song has something to offer. The soft melody of “Catch”, the mystical atmosphere of “One More Time”, the unnecessary middle part of “Fight”, etc. My favourite track is either the opening devilish “The Kiss” or “Just Like Heaven”.

Also, some words about singing. It’s mostly good (the made-up emotional intonations work), but isn’t it disgusting how Robert Smith sings the word “delicious” in “Why Can’t I Be You?” Brrr.

A huge album. 13! A weak 13!


Fernando H. Canto <> (18.07.2004)

I bought this LP on a second-hand store. Fwow, is it a long LP! It excludes 'Last Dance' and 'Homesick', but it still goes up to 60 minutes. And I mean a single LP! Anyway, I was quite surprised with the quality of this record. Very beautiful. Very beautiful indeed. It has a very rich aura, a certain atmosphere... hard to describe. I agree with you that this stuff is not just "depressing". It is way too rich to sound just "depressing". It is certainly melancholic, but it's gorgeous and wonderful to listen to. The opening song, 'Plainsong', is wonderful. Great, soaring keyboard line. I particularly love 'Fascination Street', which means to rock in an... um, intelligent way. It rocks with intelligence. I like that. 'Pictures Of You', 'Love Song', and all four cuts on side B - first-rate material. I really like albums like these, that can really touch the soul in an unnatural way. It's that lush sound, those textures that really grip me... Ok, it doesn't *hook* on me, but it grips me tightly. This is not addictive or catchy or anything. Oh, well, this album is very special in its own way. I like it very much. Gets an easy 13, even maybe a weak 14, from me.


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Austin <> (17.07.2004)

I agree with most of your review -- this was a pretty underwhelming album for them (at first anyway).

However, and maybe it's the hardcore fan in me, I've actually concocted my own version of the album that would rank among my favorites by the band.

The thing is... RS made some really poor choices with the track selection on this record. Some of the best songs were unjustly scattered amongst the single b-sides for only die hard fans to hear (yours truly included). Wild Mood Swings originally started out (supposedly) as a mostly acoustic-ish, purposely sparse album. That's why you noticed the "almost folksy or 'rootsy' sound." Well, the b-sides are MOSTLY (with a few exceptions) the same thing, but with amazing results.

Amongst them, you get the proto-Bloodflowers sounding "It Used To Be Me," "A Pink Dream" which sounds like a Head on the Door outtake (think "In Between Days" without the loud keyboards), "Ocean" which plays like either a prequel or sequel to "This Is A Lie," and "Home" which RS plagiarized himself on for the band's current single "The End of the World."

I mixed in all six b-sides and removed "Club America," "Round & Round & Round," "Strange Attraction," and "Return" and resequenced the album to my preference and, like I said, made one of my very favorite records by the band.

I think the album gets an unfair negative criticism, because, as you even acknowledged in your review, there are some great songs to be found on it. And, especially when compared to their current album, it's a solid record that deserves a reassessment.


Robert Chaundy <> (04.05.2004)

Good review, George. For some reason I didn't think you'd like this one - there seem to be a lot of otherwise dedicated Cure fans who have something against it.

I can see its flaws - the production is very scratchy and abrasive, and Smith's voice is very high in the mix, which isn't necessarily a very good thing. But I think these songs are generally wonderful. My favourite is 'Maybe Someday', which is a snarling, vituperative mutation of all those pop masterpieces like 'Friday I'm In Love' and 'Just Like Heaven'. 'The Loudest Sound' and title track also do it for me, but the whole album does really.

For what it's worth, I really don't buy the whole Pornography-Disintegration-Bloodflowers 'trilogy' thing. They are three very different albums whose only common features seem to be sadness and high quality. In some ways (the raw, scratchy production), Bloodflowers actually recalls the debut album more strongly than either two of its miserabilist predecessors.

As I write, rumours of a follow-up to Bloodflowers are circulating, and I see absolutely no reason to disbelieve them - Smith has been stating or implying that each Cure album since The Head On The Door would be the last, and whilst the mood of Bloodflowers might superficially seem very final, I think this is actually a bit of a tease. "

We shall see.

Fernando Canto <> (01.07.2005)

I can't stand this album. I mean, I like some of the songs individually, but I can hardly listen to any of them. Maybe it has to do with that unbearable production: that ones that drowns you with dynamic compression and loudness until everything is helplessly distorted. And the case is critical here. In fact, I'll say that I don't even *remember* the songs in their whole, already having heard the album quite a couple of times. Maybe that's the curse of digesting an album quickly just to get to the other one. But the truth is, I guess I dislike the album just as much as you like it. I'm a big fan of Disintegration, but also for different reasons. I don't find that one loud, bombastic, grandiose and smashing. Instead, I find it poetic, balanced and gentle. The bursts of mind-bending gothicness come in fair dosages. The album's not there to BE sad - it's there to be beautiful. A sad kind of beauty, yes. And this album gives me the impression that Smith didn't think that was enough, so he set out to show he IS very sad and very angry, and made Bloodflowers. But it strikes me as superficial here. I can face it: Smith can't prove me he actually have so many problems. In the Disintegration time, he could at least PRETEND he did. But in Bloodflowers, he's pretty much a happy, married man trying to make a depressing album because that's what he's supposed to do. And that's a shame, when The Cure's music, in general, is surprisingly natural to me. It IS flashy, but in a counscious way. I NEVER took any of Smith's words to heart. But in Bloodflowers, it's like he wants me to do so. And I don't. I don't take the album, really. I like the opening track, I like 'Where The Birds Always Sing' (that nice guitar line thingy), 'Maybe Someday' and a bit of 'The Last Day Of Summer'. But 'Watching Me Fall'? It's so forced, it hurts. I guess I could isolate some tracks and like them individually, but the album as a whole is a statement of nothing. That "one last time before we go" gets me. Come on, I always treated "Robert Smith" as a character created by the man. Is the actual MAN trying to tell me something? Don't make me laugh. I'd give this a 10.


Fernando Canto <> (01.07.2005)

And here the antithesis is complete. I like this album. I don't love it, y'know. But to me, this album is far more successful than Bloodflowers 'cause it's more honest. It's pop goth, loud, abrasive, ugly at times, but not under a mask of "sadness" and "Cureness" and "the third part of the Pornography/Disintegration/Bloodflowers trilogy". So there. Smith is just a singer in a pop and roll band, and he knows it. I don't need much more. 'End Of The World' is a fabulous pop single that, for the first time in years, breaks away from the 'Just Like Heaven' -> 'Friday I'm In Love' -> 'Mint Car' progression. Unfortunately, the progression is resumed in 'Taking Off'. Heh. 'Never' is very discardable. 'Before Three' is goody, though! I actually like 'Lost' a lot, and 'The Promise'... Well, I like build-ups, and this is quite a darned good one. It just goes and goes. It keeps getting more and more dense as it goes. 'Us Or Them' is cool! I like the poisonous lyrics. I tend to be somewhat turned off by obvious and unsubtle polictical rants, but this one does it. And there's something about that 'I Don't Know What's Going On', that... You know, if you make it major key and give it to a female singer, it turns into "Lah-yah-yah the greatest moment! Lah-yah-yah the greatest love of them all!"... I know it sounds silly, but it DID strike me as VERY Cranberry-ish the first time I heard it. Eh, anyway. I don't care much about the extra tracks, either. Only 'Going Nowhere' is good as a nice, quiet ballad. 'Fake' is kinda okay, too. I give this a... uh, 11.

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