Music | CD Revue: The Cure, The Legendary Pink Dots 

 Jurassic Park

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Andromeda Strain

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Congo

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R.I.P. Michael Crichton

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The Cure 4:13 Dream

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The Legendary Pink Dots Plutonium Blonde

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Despite Robert Smith’s physical deterioration into a flabby poster child for “goth-gone-wrong,” there’s no denying that The Cure has aged gracefully. Since 2000’s beautifully-subtle Bloodflowers, the band as released solid material that only pales comparatively to “classic” Cure.

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If it wasn’t working against history, 4:13 Dream would be a good album by any standard. Ditching the perfectionism of their engaging eponymous album, The Cure used a loose, live approach to record 4:13 Dream; and the band hasn’t been this comfortable since Disintegration. Despite a three-minute dream-sludge intro (Ah! Windchimes!), “Underneath the Stars” is a romancer that lifts Smith out of his usual-Baroque longing and “The Only One” is The Cure’s first happy song since “A Letter to Elise” to not sound corny.  

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Much of The Cure’s later success is due to Smith’s voice, which has only gotten better with time. Even when the album settles for mid-90s alterna-rock (“The Hungry Ghost”), Smith does not shy away from going big in a way that can only be described as lush. And “The Scream” is pretty passable except for hearing him enact the title.

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The Legendary Pink Dots are like The Cure in that both bands have been making the same doom-tinged music (more or less) for over twenty years, but where The Cure’s music often provides a light at the end of a tunnel, LPD have no problem with sinking you deeper into industrial hell. With their album-count higher than their number of years together, it’s hardly surprising to see LPD venture into accessible territory with Plutonium Blonde, but that’s a very loose term.

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“Torchsong” is an atonal march adorned with sharp metallic plings and vocalist Edward Ka-Spel whispering menacingly in his typical minstrel fashion; it’s equally frightening, compelling and way ahead of its time (Liars fans, take note). Even after the terrifying spoken-word “An Arm and Leg” (“… makes a mess of that designer shirt you’ve paid an arm and a leg for. But what about the other arm and leg?”), a cheery, banjo ode to a mailman (“Mailman”) sounds sinister. It’s not easy to make ominous/alien music engaging, but, LPD’s Plutonium Blonde is not merely enjoyable, it’s transcendent.   

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Ryan Bradford

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