The Cure : More Love and Madness

THE CURE "Disintegration." Elektra ****

Disintegration? Isn't that what happens to rock bands who've been around as long as the Cure? The title turns out to be as ironic as a story by Saki--this is the most confident and accomplished Cure album yet.

The reasons have nothing to do with breaking new ground--the last two brilliant collections did the exploring. "Disintegration" sifts through the findings and synthesizes the elements that have made the English band one of the most entrancing ofthe '80s: The focus of the earlier, darkness-drenched LPs is merged with the greater musical/lyrical/mood dimensions of the later ones.

Robert Smith's continuing fascination with love and madness no longer causes his voice to take off like a crazed bat on every other song--only on the desperation-haunted title song does it strain as of old. And dig the playful new purr on "Lullaby."

The greatest thing about "Disintegration" is its sound--a gorgeous fabric of rumbling bass, cathedral organ, swirling chimes, rain effects, Arabian Nights rhythms, and several styles of guitar--all supporting some of Smith's most probing and poetic lyrics yet.

You'll have to wait for those lyrics longer than ever, though: Now every song begins with a long instrumental intro--exactly the sort of thing that separates the Cure from even the best of more normal rock bands. Love 'em for that.

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