Sound — 10
This is the best blend of The Cure's various styles that any album has ever seen. Things kick off with the blissful "Underneath the Stars" which leads into the most radio-friendly song on the album, "The Only One" which channels some early 90s happy cure vibes. There's also some funk goin down in this joint when we reach "Freakshow", which really makes you want to go dancing or joy riding. Later on, we get more euphoric make-you-smile tracks, "The Perfect Boy" and "This. Here and Now. With You", all of these utilizing your good ol' major arpeggios and high 6-string bass parts that Robert Smith has become so good at writing. After those, we get into the most hard rocking cure we've ever heard. It still has a little of the strange progressive feel of Bloodflowers and other recent tracks, but ultimately perfected and given a more straight-up rock feel. "Sleep When I'm Dead" is a track that was originally recorded for the Head on the Door album, and Robert Smith pulled it out of the storage she'd for this album. The funky rock feel from "Freakshow" is also apparent here, and makes for some sweet licks. The following track, "The Scream" is one of my favorites and a very unique track. But the album closer, "It's Over", has potential to become my favorite Cure song in time, using the same kind of format as "Push" from The Head on the Door, or Muse's Knights of Cydonia, with the whole first half of the song an intricate intro, and the second half rawking your brains out. These songs are written so well, you can tell that years of care and revision have gone into each of them.
Lyrics — 9
These are pretty much your regulation Robert Smith themes here, with his usual genius saturating them with clever lines and (surprise!) some F-bombs, which surprised me (that's usually not The Cure's thing), but they're very well executed in "It's Over". Some of the best lines, include, "Oh I love what you do to my head; It's a mess up there" from "The Only One" and this prime example of Cure lyrics from "It's Over": A nagging sense of shame I can't explain An acrid taste of smoke and blood And tears and drugs And every inch of me is raw And it's always f***ing over It's raining and I'm blind And it's late and you're gone I can't do this anymore And, as always, Robert Smith's entirely unique do-whatever-the-eff-I-feel-like voice shines throughout the album, as he is one singer whose voice gets better as he gets older.
Overall Impression — 10
This album blew my mind. I listened to it four times in a row the first time I ever heard it. Nearly every bit is brilliant, and die-hard Cure fans won't be disappointed or turned off by a single aspect. Low parts of the album are scarce, for example, I wasn't a huge fan of the suicide-oriented lyrics in "The Reasons Why" or parts of "The Real Snow White", but this album is definitely more than the sum of its parts, and my favorite album of 2008 thus far.