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POP MUSIC | * 1/2, THE CURE, "Wild Mood Swings", Elektra
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'Mood Swings' Strengthens Cure's Effect

May 05, 1996|Sara Scribner

Reports that Cure singer Robert Smith had become a lighthearted sprite when "Wish" was released in 1992 were grossly exaggerated. Beneath that album's surface high spirits were hints of the old Smith--the voice of the gloom generation.

Because the Cure eloquently captured the gothic soul of the '80s, Smith battles an inherent problem: His voice has become a cliche, and the Cure's music has not ventured far enough from its recipe to pull the singer out of it. "Wild Mood Swings," with its Spanish horns and daring instrumentals, comes close to doing the trick.

True to its title, "Wild Mood Swings" finds Smith vacillating between the morgue and the playground, a depressive's bed and a sultry mariachi party. Smith has remarked that these songs have such individuality that the record could be approached as a batch of singles, but it feels so carefully devised that it smacks of concept album.

The haunting, melodic moments ("The 13th" and "Want") that imply a promising character shift are sapped by the album's final, weaker songs. Nevertheless, "Mood Swings" contains some of the Cure's most engaging, probing and courageous studio work of this decade.

*

Albums are rated on a scale of one star (poor), two stars (fair), three stars (good) and four (excellent).

*

TimesLine 808-8463

To hear excerpts from the albums reviewed, call TimesLine and press * and the artist's corresponding four-digit code. The Cure *5725

In 805 area code, call (818) 808-8463.

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