The Cure – Wish

What I Think of When I Think of Artist (part 5)

I finally saw the Cure live for the first time well into the 2010s. They closed down one night of Riot Fest; under city ordinance, outdoor live music needs to end at midnight, otherwise the organizer/host of the event gets heavily fined. The Cure played a tremendous set, with considerably extended versions of several of their songs. They ended the show at midnight on the dot. I’ve never been so impressed in my life. They had that thing planned out to the second, and they stuck to it perfectly. Make no mistake, the Cure are fucking professionals. The Cure is still a going concern, but I haven’t much cared for their work since the early ‘90s.

What I Think of This Album

This album is a lot of things. It is the final album with drummer Boris Williams. It is the last album with guitarist Porl Thompson (now Pearl Thompson) for many years. It is the first album with former roadie Perry Bamonte. It is certainly the last great Cure album. What it also is is lacking a real identity. Which is a shame, because it is packed with great songs. This basically sounds like a single disc version of Kiss Me, Kiss Me, Kiss Me (right down to replicating the “heavy guitar opener / light second track” trick) in that it reverts to the psychedelic guitar sounds of that album and continues to trade in darkness and despair, but it lacks the perverse sense of fun that elevated that record. This is all the more unusual because there are – just like on Kiss Me – poppy and even airy songs here that switch up the sound. But Wish ends up being a bunch of Cure tunes thrown together, with no organic cohesiveness; on their individual merits, though, many of them are excellent.

“High” is not frothy, but close; this is a playful, breezy tune that perhaps could have benefitted from cleaner production. Buried in the middle of the album is Brill Building-in-black-clothes “Friday I’m In Love,” in which Smith proves that he can write a classic (and classicist) pop song as well as anybody. He again offers up some rare positivity on the excellent “Doing the Unstuck,” which rocks out, but in a gentlemanly manner. Smith dips into his Kafka to produce the beautifully heartbreaking “A Letter to Elise,” easily the finest moment on this album and a top Cure song. Best Cure drummer ever Williams powers the swirling, moving “By the Edge of the Deep Green Sea,” though we get very close to guitar wankery towards the end – Thompson left after this album to join the Jimmy Page/Robert Plant project, and I wonder if Thompson’s sound was moving in a more classic rock direction at this time. String sounds dominate “Trust,” which could have been a Disintegration track if it had been recorded and produced like that album. “Cut” is a powerhouse offering, with rapid-fire work from Williams and some serious guitar fireworks (wah-wah!) and one of Smith’s better vocal performances (he sounds tired on much of this album). This should have been the first track instead of comparatively tepid “Open.” In fact, additional resequencing could have resulted in a stronger album overall.

As for the lesser tracks, the bongos are a nice touch on “To Wish Impossible Things.” Someone breaks out the wah-wah pedal on the funky and unexpected “Wendy Time,” which seems like it could have benefitted from a more thoughtful arrangement. This track just doesn’t quite work. “Apart” sounds like a Cure song that they have done better before; I would go so far as to call this filler, and it sort of kills the momentum early on. “End” is appropriately as forgettable as “Open,” though definitely a better song. Trivia:  Thompson is married to Smith’s sister, and has retired from music to focus on painting. Bamonte and keyboardist Roger O’Donnell were fired in 2005, though supposedly they remain friendly with Smith (O’Donnell had previously left in 1990 and rejoined in 1994).

The Best Thing About This Album

I wish I could make someone’s “eyes catch fire the way they should.”

Release Date

April, 1992

The Cover Art

I like the color scheme? It’s cool that it takes a second to realize that’s a sand dollar. As for the rest of it, hard pass.

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