12. The Cure (2004): The last decade hasn’t been incredibly kind to the Cure. Despite the release of several elaborate, excellent reissues and a new appreciation for the band in critical circles, Robert Smith and Co. have yet to recapture the brilliant heights of their earlier work. More than anything, latter-day Cure suffers from the long shadow cast by their formidable back catalog. 2004’s self-titled album saw the band try something new — venturing into heavier territory with then-super-producer Ross Robinson (also known as “the godfather of nü-metal”). The songs themselves aren’t bad, but Robinson recasts the band as something they never were — overly-angsty heroes for the emo generation — and it never quite fits. The epic-length dirges actually hold up well (“The Promise” especially), but the poppier bits feel lightweight. The thin jangle of “The End Of The World” feels less like the effortless pop that made them a household name and more like a carbon-copy of Cure-derivative emo/indie-pop bands. For a band built on timeless wonder, the last thing you want is an awkward reminder of the horrors of 2004. (I can’t even begin to comment on the horror of the album cover.)

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