Robert Smith may be on the cusp of turning 50, but that hasn't stopped The Cure from turning back the clock.
Smith, fronting a refreshing, stripped-down four-piece, returns with an aggressive approach on the band's first disc in four years, 4:13 Dream.
The raw feel doesn't mean the youthful melancholy is any less potent — after all, this is The Cure — and Smith's biting vocals on 4:13 Dream are some of his finest in years.
Bassist Simon Gallup, who may be the most integral part to The Cure's signature sound, propels The Reasons Why with a fantastic array of grooves while Smith wails, "I won't try to bring you down about my suicide."
Jason Cooper (drums) and Porl Thompson (keyboards, guitar) fill out The Cure's tightest incarnation since 1989's classic Disintegration.
The band offered four singles leading up to the disc's release — the delightful jangle of The Only One, the kitschy Freakshow, a sweet The Perfect Boy and the layered doom of Sleep When I'm Dead.
This. Here And Now. With You is a slight, romantic pop ditty and It's Over may be the toughest disc closer the band has ever recorded after a career filled with soft fades.
The Hungry Ghost tackles greed and avarice with plenty of punch, as does the mid-tempo grind of The Scream.
Through their many guises over nearly 30 years — from Goth rock to dense pop — Smith and The Cure offer a nice balance to all their personas on 4:13 Dream.