Picks and Pans Review: Standing on the Beach: the Singles
As if terrified of alienating their audiences, major rock radio stations often appear to avoid any music that's new. That's why most people know very little about the Cure, one of the best British rock bands of recent years. But even if your tuner can't pull in one of those college radio stations where the Cure often tops the play list, you can catch up with them through the 13 fine songs on this retrospective album. It holds together better than most greatest hits albums because the chronologically ordered songs progress through various styles while showing consistent precision. Killing an Arab, for instance, a 1979 tune based on Albert Camus' novel The Stranger, has a spare, New Wave sound. Every bass note and percussive ping stands out. On later cuts lead singer Robert Smith's plaintive vocals develop from reedy to resonant and the band's music becomes more dense. The vaguely Oriental Hanging Gardens (1982) includes warlike pounding on the drums and flutelike synthesizer harmonics. The album concludes with two 1985 songs that demonstrate the Cure's brighter pop style. Close to Me, with whispered vocals, a stacatto beat and snappy synth riffs, has a gut-punch impact at a volume one-tenth the level of other dance songs. The only drawback to Standing on the Beach is the pressure it puts on the Cure. It will be hard for their next album to match the quality of this package. (Elektra)
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