Saturday, July 5, 2008
I’ll admit that when I first heard “Bloodflowers,” I wasn’t blown away. I suppose that at the time of its release, I was more into the bright side of The Cure, having been a fan since 1985’s “Head on the Door.” However, after witnessing “Bloodflowers” performed live on the Trilogy DVD, I’ve had a “change of head.” I now believe that “Bloodflowers” is a stunningly understated piece of work, and it has evolved into my second favorite Cure album behind "Faith." It’s a guitar-drenched and somewhat psychedelic affair, and, like “Pornography” and "Faith," a little impenetrable upon first listen. And, like those two albums, it gradually grows on you, indeed nearly attaches itself to to you, immersing the listener in a world of brooding introspection. However, unlike “Pornography,” “Bloodflowers” is never scary, only darkly ethereal - a bit like "Faith," in fact.
“Bloodflowers” represents the classic and art rock facet of The Cure, and at times calls forth the influences of Led Zeppelin and Pink Floyd. The title track, the album’s most haunting song, even boasts a delicious Hendrix-style guitar solo.
Aside from the title track, highlights of this album include the lushly solemn “The Loudest Sound” (which provides an unusual flourish when Robert Smith croons the song’s title and a chiming guitar riff competes with his lyric), the contemplative “The Last Day of Summer,” the exquisitely existential “Where the Birds Always Sing,” and “There is No If...,” which showcases Smith’s quirky romantic humor. The album’s most scorching track is the epic “Watching Me Fall,” a song made more ominous by eerily erotic lyrics.
“Bloodflowers” has been maligned for its lyrical flatness, but honestly, I think these are some of Smith’s best lyrics. Yes, they are less typically ambiguous and surreal (save for the chilling dialogue that embellishes the title song, and the words adorning the aforementioned “Watching Me Fall”), but their peculiar power lies in their taut simplicity, explicit introspection, and restrained pathos.
Some people have criticized “Bloodflowers” for not living up to the melancholic grandeur of “Disintegration” while others have lamented the lack of sinister edge so prevalent on “Pornography.” But I think “Bloodflowers” was not intended to be a replication of either of those albums, but rather an amalgam of the best aspects of both, and it works masterfully well.
“Bloodflowers” is The Cure at its most musically mature. The subtle potency of “Bloodflowers” will elude the masses, but patient listeners will reap many rewards from this CD.