Playing God
The Cure: Wish

every time a new Cure LP is ready to drop and the promotional circus begins again you can count on Robert Smith to start his usual flannel about how this is "possibly the last Cure album ever." Looking back at their recent output I really wish that Wish really had been their swansong. Recorded by the core of the definitive Cure line-up they attempted to relive their pop glory days of Head on the Door and Kiss Me, Kiss Me, Kiss Me with a thick sheen of Disintegration's black skies production smeared on top in order to create the definitive Cure statement. Shame then, that the actual LP comes over as a both a little bloated and a good third disposable, creating one of the least enjoyable listens of their career. Not so much a truly appalling effort as it was a lazy and uninspired sounding effort. Wish may not have been an obvious death blow to the band but it signalled a slowing down of the quality control and the fact that all but two of the b-sides from this LP were unarguably awful showed how bad things were going to get pretty soon.

The spectacularly crap artwork for the LP and accompanying singles doesn’t help matters.

Side 1
01. End
Dragged from its position as album closer to this new version's opening track, "End" is a weighty despairing rant on the uselessness of Smith's artistic life and the monotony of his Cure. Perfect way to open a Cure album, no? Its original opener "Open" didn't really pack any punch or sound like a welcome being as it was a flabby and exceptionally whiny tale of another night's beer / meet-and-greet overindulgence. Plus the majority of Cure fans will probably find it much easier to relate to this sort existential despair than they would an overkill of backstage socialising.

02. Doing the Unstuck
Could switching straight from the stormy lightning flecked depths of "End" to the ‘perfect day with a twist’ of this poppier moment unsettle the album's flow? Very possibly, but the world of Robert Smith devotees is mostly inhabited by manic depressives, giddy pop girls and oddballs so I think this seemingly insane shift won't even register for most listeners. Even though the constant refrain of the song is “Let’s get happy!” there’s still a negative payoff when Smith points out that it’s too little too late for the couple in question. Even the smiles on Wish have big ugly laughter lines.

03. The Big Hand (“A Letter to Elise” b-side)
Another classic piece of Cure genius hidden away as a b-side, its heavy mood and descending melody is buoyed by Spanish flourishes and an echoing piano melody. These musical layers push along the mild air of despair that making the song much less of a slit-yr-throat affair that it could’ve been.

04. From the Edge of the Deep Green Sea
Keeping the glum mood running for a bit longer while still stepping it up a few notches with Thompson let loose on the guitar for a bit of heavy climbing the scales session, "From the Edge of the Deep Green Sea" is the LP’s main mini-epic. With a lyrical similarity to the cliff top romance of “Just Like Heaven” Smith builds up his wailing over Gallup’s memorable bass lifting the song through several peaks to a sad drifting ending.

05. Wendy Time
Not exactly as odd as the left turn found when the Cure offered up their synth pop Japanese Whispers but the mini-funkateer elements of wah-wah on “Wendy Time” doesn’t sit too well amongst the flab of the originally structured LP. Much underrated in the Cure’s canon the song’s “It doesn’t touch me” refrain seems to have been taken literally by many.

Side 2
06. High
Perfect Cure pop; cooing noises, sparkly sprinkle noises, that guitar sound and topped off with Smith’s giggly finger chewing lyrics. It wasn’t that many years ago that albums kicked off side two with a huge rush of melody, whatever happened to those days? Whatever happened to side two’s?

07. A Foolish Arrangement (“A Letter to Elise” b-side)
One of the main problems with Wish was its polished shiny exterior. Inserting this track would give an air of slight rawness with something a little more punky, instead of a boring cod-epic like album track “Trust.” Built around the bassline, this is probably the most energetic thing to come out of the album sessions, the drums sounding especially loud in relation to the rest of their output. Nice spiralling down-the–plughole guitar line too. No wonder Thompson (guitarist) and Williams (drummer) left before the next LP with this relegated to b-side status.

08. Friday I'm in Love
Even though I consider this to be the worst song of all time by any band ever, I’m still keeping it on my version of Wish. It’s a messed up relationship to be sure. Everything about it stinks, from the very silly pissed up video with its fake silly smiles through gritted teeth to the fact that it’s the only Cure track I ever hear on the radio. Songs with days of the week (except that Craig David one) are fucking rubbish; its lyrical autopilot at its most obvious. And Christ, check out the intentionally wobbly guitar line around the three minute mark. So why is it here? It’s better than some of the plodding pap that I removed from the original LP and it needs all the pop it can get.

09. A Letter to Elise
Plinky toy piano under a beautiful keyboards part with a relatively loud bass make this a cosily warm sounding track. This is probably the strongest track on the album, and its straining at the chains of futility love story lyric plucks at the heart strings for a time when this sort of song was the norm not the rarity on a Cure album.

10. To Wish Impossible Things
As the second last track on the original Wish this song’s soft ending of the album was overshadowed by the kicking down doors black cloud that was the “End” finale. Here, it rounds off the proceedings on a more percussive and forlorn note with the track that spawned the LP’s title.

By: Scott McKeating
Published on: 2005-04-25
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