Most famous songwriters are lucky to have written one, maybe two awesome songs — songs that they rewrite and rework for the rest of their career. Robert Smith tends to get boxed in as one of these one-trick ponies, what with his penchant for gaping-maw-of-gloom mopers.
Don't blame the man for the fans, though: a waltz through any Cure long-player will reveal stylistic breadth as well as songwriting mastery, and 4:13 Dream (the band's 13th album in 29 years) is no slouch. The disc is something of a sonic retreat from the rock bombast of 2004's Ross Robinson–produced The Cure: the mood is less morose and the tunes are more tightly written.
Opener "Underneath the Stars" is glistening and widescreen, perhaps a nod back to the epic nature of Smith's Disintegration-era work. After that, the record becomes more pop-centered and focused. Languid slide guitars and lilting acoustics propel "Sirensong"; fuzzed-out bass and whooshing synths power "Freakshow" — and, like several other songs on the record, both clock in at under 2:30. Even with a dozen records behind him, Smith, when he puts his mind to it, remains a master at crafting concise masterpieces of bouncy pop majesty.