ESSENTIAL "The Real Snow White"
Edvard Munch is nowhere to be found on the Cure's gnarled new song "The Scream," but it is a close aural equivalent of the Norwegian artist's masterpiece and an embodiment of all the repressed rage that has marked Cure frontman Robert Smith's career. It's one of the best tracks on the Cure's first set in four years. Smith has stripped down the sound to its guitar core (there are no keyboards), and long-absent guitarist Porl Thompson is back. "4:13 Dream" opens with a ringing reverb symphony of desire, "Underneath the Stars," and immediately shifts to the perky gem "The Other Ones." It's as if Smith is laying out the disc's template. He may be always contemplating his navel (and sometimes his lover's), but his solipsism has always been tuneful and powerful when he channels his enormous gifts. The best track, "The Real Snow White," seethes with selfish desire, but Smith makes it sound so relatable. Sometimes the 50-year-old just sounds foolish: "I won't try to bring you down about my suicide" (is that Ophelia or Daffy Duck?) Not all this mope-a-dope sounds fresh, but let's hope Smith doesn't find his cure for pain just yet. (Out now) - KEN CAPOBIANCO