Category: The Cure

Covered in Folk: The Cure
(Grant Lee Phillips, Julie Peel, Luka Bloom, Death Cab, +10 more!)

November 25th, 2009 — 07:16 pm

I was never a real fan of goth-rock, though as I’ve written about before, pretty much anything that made the Top 40 in the 80s seems to linger in the minds and hearts of both my own generation and the artists it has since spawned. And The Cure was undeniably the most prevalent band of its type in mainstream mall culture when I was growing up: in my early adolescence, I dated several girls with somber black-and-white Robert Smith posters on their bedroom walls, and – looking back – can only suppose that the band’s hits and the commodified counterculture they represented resonated with a certain subset of suburban teenagers looking for a safe way to reject the Duran Duran mindset of their pre-teen years and simultaneously speak to the dark, moody feelings which lurked in their self-doubting hearts.

For whatever reason, the songs of The Cure were in the air during that formative time frame, both as radio- and bedroom-presence originals and, later, through the glorious grunge of Dinosaur Jr., whose fuzzed-out version of Just Like Heaven was a boot to the high-school head, one of my first introductions to the true joy of transformative coverage done well. As evidence, it is necessary only to note that The Cure has an especially high incidence of tribute albums and coverage in the modern era – a phenomenon due, we are sure, to their gradual shift from post-punk to suicidal goth rock to the more optimistic alternative pop of their later work, and the impact they had on all those forms, as much as it is their sheer chart popularity in the eighties, the heavy lyrical genius of Smith himself, or the existential gloom they brought to a generation yearning to reject so much, and finding only emptiness in its stead.

Today, we take a look at some of my favorite Cure covers from the last decade or so – mostly the best and most delicate of popular hits like Just Like Heaven, In Between Days, and Boys Don’t Cry, all of which which turn out to play out exceptionally well as slower popfolk ballads and dark, tinkly acoustic atmospheric pieces without all the synth and driving drums. From ragged and honest to celebratory and sharp, each speaks to a culture continuing to mine its past for sense and sensibility, the folkways incarnate, whatever the source.

  • Luka Bloom: In Between Days

    Irish singer-songwriter Luka Bloom‘s all-covers album Keeper of the Flame features a holy host of great tunes like this one: melodic, sensitive, and surprisingly delicate, despite moving along at a decent clip. Bloom’s signature loose-strung, jangly guitarwork suits, and then some.

  • Angie Hart: Pictures of You

    Pop singer Angie Hart‘s torch song take, originally recorded for a Traffic Accident Commission ad in her native Australia, evokes the sadness of the original lyric in majestic piano, orchestral strings, and a tender, girlish vocal dripping with just the right amount of sentiment and introspection.

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