By Rebecca Bulnes
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Much like a lover who keeps threatening to pack up and leave, The Cure's Robert Smith has suggested often that each successive album or tour by the band would be its last. This has proven to be untrue so many times that fans have little reason to even bat an eyelash anymore. And, lo and behold, decades after he first began to cry wolf, The Cure not only perseveres but also continues to thrive commercially. As the band hits the States for its first major nationwide tour in four years, anticipation for the shows is predictably high. (Well, maybe not so much here, for those who caught the band at the 2007 edition of Ultra Music Festival.)
Arising out of the same Seventies musical climate that would see punk cook itself down to a fertile pile of New Wave ash, The Cure essentially became the world's flagship prototype goth band. Smith, however, rejects the term, and with good reason, because he has always more than amply demonstrated a knack for pushing the band in new creative directions. Recent albums, such as 2000's Bloodflowers (the last "last" album) and 2004's The Cure, show him lifting the band's trademark swirl of thick guitar and keyboard layers to new, ever richer heights.
And though Smith continues to mine the same well of heartbreak and despair he has since day one, he has inexplicably evaded falling into the self-parody trap. Perhaps the fact that he perpetually reinvigorates the music has helped him stay on his toes lyrically. Whatever the reason, The Cure both epitomizes and transcends the "mope-rock" tag with which critics christened the group (not always unflatteringly) early on.
With its wallowing subject matter and flagrant insistence that it was okay for boys to be weepy and dress like femme mourners, The Cure must have seemed like a revelation for American teenagers alienated from the prevailing macho sensibility. But, much like peer outfit Depeche Mode, the band's thin-sounding early work hardly suggested a band that was built to last.
Somehow, though, both bands sidestepped the minefield of clichés ready to engulf their respective styles, and became enduring giants of concert attendance. Constant creative growth hasn't hurt. In its latest incarnation — a four-piece that includes longtime bassist Simon Gallup and returning cofounder Porl Thompson — The Cure re-emerges practically looking like a genre unto itself.
In what will surely end up being a wise move, the current shows are taking place just as a publicity buildup for the band's 13th, still-untitled studio album gets underway. Having just announced September 13 as the release date, the band plans to unveil a new song the 13th of every month until then.