AS YOU WISH
Author: Bruce Jenkins Date Posted:26 January 2024
Regularly described as eccentric, eclectic, or both, The Cure are as hard to categorise as these adjectives suggest. With a foundation built upon the potent songwriting skills of founder Robert Smith and a tendency to re-invent themselves both musically and personnel-wise, these beloved UK weirdos have been making fascinating albums since 1979.
The Cure’s influence has been significant, touching on Brit-pop, shoegaze and post-rock while maintaining a large alternative rock fan base and scoring hit singles to boot. All this is beautifully illustrated on their pivotal 1992 LP Wish.
Wish is, first and foremost, a guitar album. It begins with attention-grabbing rock swagger on "Open" after which "High" offers deft 60s jangle, neatly demonstrating Robert Smith’s love of that colourful decade. The third track, "Apart" has a downbeat U2 vibe, Smith in plaintive vocal mode while guitar arpeggios roll and rock the listener through heavy-hearted clouds. Waves of psychedelic guitar thunder across "From the edge of the deep green sea." There is, in sum, lots of guitar.
The guitar dominance is not surprising when it is remembered that during early Cure gigs Smith returned to the stage to join headliners Siouxsie and the Banshees on guitar, and later formally joined the band during a Cure hiatus (of which there have been several; this is a dysfunctional family whose personnel changes reads like a ball of wool that has been savaged by a pack of love cats). It should also be pointed out that Wish has, in addition to Smith, two further guitarists. Porl Thompson and Perry Bamonte round out a forceful and versatile trio, resulting in a rich palette of six-string colours with which to paint.
And colours there are. After the monochrome melancholy of Faith and the mesmerising desperation of Disintegration, Wish does seem to hint at a possible balance between desperation and delight. "High" is downright optimistic. "Doing the Unstuck" has the refrain "Let’s get happy!" although it is perhaps an aspirational plea rather than a chirpy invitation. Long known for angst and excess (behaviour gleefully exploited by the UK tabloid press), the most controversial news to come out of the 1992 recording period was that Robert Smith got a haircut. Hold the front page!
So we come, at last, to the most sparkly, whimsical moment on the album, the hit single "Friday I’m In Love." With a supremely catchy melody and tongue-in-cheek charm, this world-wide Top 40 hit is as memorable as it is upbeat. Main writer Robert Smith called it "a very naïve, happy type of pop song", a description few would dispute. The single helped propel Wish to the top of the charts in the UK and Australia and to #2 in the USA, making it by far the Cure’s most commercially successful album.
"It's always been paradoxical that it's pushed down people's throats that we're a goth band," Smith observed to Mojo magazine in 2004. "Because, to the general public, we're not. To taxi drivers, I'm the bloke that sings 'Friday I'm in Love'."2
- The 30th Anniversary picture disc edition featured in this review looks and sounds great!
- Quote from MOJO: The Music Magazine, August 2004 (#129; page 870)
© Bruce Jenkins—January 2024