Picks and Pans Review: Wish

updated 06/01/1992 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 06/01/1992 AT 01:00 AM EDT

The Cure

This album vaulted onto the Billboard charts, entering at No. 2. That surprisingly strong showing reflects the volatile nature of the charts since the industry bible changed its accounting methods last year. It also signals the fervor of the Cure's steadily swelling pool of fans, all of whom apparently flew to stores the day the album hit the racks.

But even the most devoted Cure fans may be disappointed when they break this eighth Rx out of the jewel box, because it is one of the most diffident and dull outings in the group's 14-year history.

Newcomers tempted by the big chart blip may be even more dismayed: No one is ever going to mistake the Cure for Bon Jovi or Skid Row. The most macabre of British gloom-rockers, they look like trolley trolls, not tour bus demigods. Onstage, they stand stock still. A ripple of excitement courses through the crowd if one of them shifts his weight from one foot to the other. Then there's that thick, incantatory music and the mopey, soul-sick lyrics. Most of the songs are set to the same midtempo drone. Let's not overlook singer and sinecure Robert Smith, who looks like a bread pudding that was left in an unplugged refrigerator and who has a zombiefied voice that makes him sound like the second banana in a classic horror film—you know, the vampire's squirrelly helper, the werewolf's weary butler, the mad scientist's hunchbacked lab assistant. Finally there are all those surreal Dali-esque videos director Tim Pope has been crafting for the group for the last decade.

Wish has few fulfillments beyond the trippy "High," the penetrating, epic-scaled "From the Edge of the Deep Green Sea" and the swirling, rather giddy "Friday I'm in Love." More effective Cures include the singles collection, Standing on a Beach ('86), and the double album, Kiss Me Kiss Me Kiss Me ('87). Wish is just a hard-to-swallow placebo. (Elektra)

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