New wave bands have come and gone through the years, but The Cure is one of the few acts from that era that have remained active all throughout, despite the changing trends in rock music. With frontman Robert Smith being the only truly consistent member of the British band since their 1979 formation, The Cure had an undeniable influence on many contemporaries and younger musicians alike, particularly in the goth scene that emerged in the 1980s before becoming far more popular in the 1990s. But that’s not to say they aren’t also known for poppier and/or catchier tunes, as “Lovesong” and “Friday I’m In Love” were both big hits on the Billboard Hot 100 and remain fondly remembered to this day.
The Cure released their last album, “4:13 Dream,” in 2008, and if you’re doing the math, that’s 13 years since the last time they released new music. That’s one year short of how long Guns N’ Roses fans had to wait in between their divisive cover of the Rolling Stones’ “Sympathy for the Devil” from 1994 and their much-maligned “comeback” album “Chinese Democracy,” which, incidentally, also came out in 2008. So what’s been taking Smith and his bandmates so long to come up with something new? There are multiple reasons, and we’ll be listing them below as we look at why it’s been quite a while since The Cure released an album.
The Cure has had some lineup changes
There are times when lineup changes can be good for a band. One need look no further than the time when the Beatles replaced Pete Best with some bloke named Ringo and only became the biggest act in popular music history with their new man behind the drum kit. Otherwise, lineup changes can leave fans underwhelmed — and put bands under a lot of stress while scrambling to find a competent replacement. According to their official biography page, on-and-off guitarist Pearl Thompson left The Cure “for the last time” in 2009, reducing the band to a trio of Robert Smith on vocals and guitars, Simon Gallup on bass, and Jason Cooper on drums. It was only in 2012 when the group found a long-term replacement for Thompson. That year, they recruited American guitarist Reeves Gabrels, who was best known for his work with the late David Bowie, as noted by NPR.
Gabrels’ arrival allowed The Cure to expand to their usual five-piece setup, as prior to his joining the band, keyboardist Roger O’Donnell — another on-and-off member — made his return to the lineup in 2011 after six years away. Ex-member Lol Tolhurst, who was The Cure’s founding drummer before he switched to keyboards (via Pop Matters), joined the group onstage for a few shows that same year, but never rejoined in an official capacity.
They spent nearly a decade touring after 4:13 Dream's release
When bands release a new album, it’s not at all unusual for them to spend a year or two touring behind that record, flying around the world to promote and perform the songs they had just recorded while, of course, making longtime fans happy by playing the big hits. A look at The Cure’s biography page, however, shows that the band spent nine years (well, most of those nine years, anyway) playing various concerts and festivals after the release of “4:13 Dream.” That included a headlining slot at the 2009 edition of the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival — back when it wasn’t an overly commercialized ground zero for every clout-chasing influencer and their cousin.
Aside from all the aforementioned shows, The Cure headlined 19 European summer festivals in 2012, had a stadium tour of South America in 2013 that saw them play their first-ever shows in several countries, and played even more festivals that same year, including Lollapalooza and Austin City Limits in the U.S. It was more of the same in 2014 before they went on break the following year to focus on a “strange assortment of personal projects, unexpected collaborations and ongoing ventures.” In 2016, The Cure went on an extensive world tour, traveling to 22 countries and, as their biography noted, “never playing the same setlist twice.”
In 2017, The Cure finally took some time out to write new songs and record demos for these tunes, though much of their time in 2017 and 2018 was also spent remixing and remastering albums from their extensive back catalog.
At least one new album should be arriving soon, but when?
In 2019, fans of The Cure got their first serious indication that the group would soon be releasing some new music. In July 2019, Robert Smith revealed to NME that his band was hard at work on a new album that would be “a little bit more doom and gloom” than their previous releases — talk about setting the bar really high. He was also quite confident that The Cure would have the new record out in stores before the end of the year, stressing that he would be “extremely bitter” if they missed their target release date. Spoiler alert: They missed it.
Although the COVID-19 pandemic forced a lot of bands to go on hiatus in 2020, Smith doubled down on his previous teases in September of that year, telling BBC 6 Music that he had been quite productive due to all the time spent at home in quarantine and that one upcoming track would be “10 minutes of intense doom and gloom.” Earlier in 2020, Smith also told NME that The Cure was working on “two new albums and an hour of noise.”
Earlier this month, Smith told Zane Lowe on Apple Music 1 (via Stereogum) that one of the new Cure albums will be more cheerful than the dark and gloomy release he had been teasing for the past two years. More importantly, fans might not have to wait much longer before they finally get released. “They’re both very close to being done,” Smith said. “I just have to decide who’s going to mix them. That’s really all I’ve got left to do.”
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