An obsessive rhythm, overly dominated by a loud and cluttered percussion beat. An interesting, wild lead-in. Lots of quirky sounds thrown in where they don't seem to belong. Lots of sound produced by the seemingly wrong instrument. A near complete lack of melody. An irregular harmony. New? Not by any means. This is what we call modern dance music, and in some respects, modern black music and rap. Yet this is what The Cure's new album approaches.
Truth to tell, it is not really a new album. It is a collection or remixes of previous hits, with a new song tacked on at the end of the album. For a vacillating new wave/pop group, this would seem a rather strange thing to do; thus comes the obvious question: why?
The songs on the album are basically all pop hits, and if nothing else, it provides one place where you can get these in a collection. However, this leads to the problem at the very heart of remixes: how much should it deviate from the original song? How can "danceability" be added without reducing the song to the point that the qualities for which it was originally popular are removed? However, with a few exceptions, "Mixed Up" was generally successful on this point. Only a few songs, such as "Inbetween Days" and "Close to Me" have been completely butchered, robbed of melody.
The new wave, hard-line Cure fans will probably be deeply disappointed. To them, this album will represent a major step toward the over-popularization and commercialism now running rampant with The Cure (which caused Robert Smith to stop touring, and perhaps even disband after the "Disintegration" album.) There is a glimmer of hope for the future, however, with one new song, "Never Enough." With a strong, brazen guitar lead accompanied by a fierce vocal performance, this song comes very close to the surreality of the "Kiss Me, Kiss Me, Kiss Me" album.
Overall, "Mixed Up" delivers just what it promises, and is actually a very good dance/remix album. It has a lot of new sounds on it, partly manages to retain the character of the old songs, and generally "works" as a party album. And it appears that while The Cure may be compromising their principles, they aren't compromising the true direction of their music, the future holds great promise. "Mixed Up" is a collection of dance mixes you won't want to miss, but an album of songs you might want to avoid. Rating: **1/2 n
This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.