Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Review: 'Cured: The Tale of Two Imaginary Boys'


No one understands the shadowy mystique of The Cure better than Robert Smith, so the press release accompanying a new book about the band probably isn’t merely speculating when it implies that he will never dilute the myth with an autobiography. Yet Cure fans are some of the most hardcore fans out there, and many still want an inside portrait of their favorite band’s story. Drummer/keyboardist Lol Tolhurst, who was The Cure’s only constant member besides Smith from the beginning and through their eighties golden era, is surely the next best candidate to tell that story. Since he’d known Smith since childhood, The Cure’s two constants are also constant figures throughout Cured: The Tale of Two Imaginary Boys. They meet as five-year olds; geek out over Hendrix; attend punk shows together; form their own band, Malice, which morphs into The Cure, which leads them to true cult stardom. The son of an alcoholic father haunted by his experiences during World War II (the elder Tolhurst witnessed the horrifying aftermath of the Rape of Nanking), Lol Tolhurst ultimately followed the path into substance abuse, and his own excessive drinking resulted in his firing from The Cure after making their key album, Disintegration.

There is a grim, often tragic lining to many of the author’s stories, and he begins the book in a morose style perfectly in tune with his band’s tone (“I came into this world the day the music died… The music had died in Horley, the town where I was born, long before that” is a deliciously dark opening salvo). However, he soon moves into a lighter, more conversational, more typical memoir voice, and a number of the stories are downright comical (the time he peed on Billy Idol; the time his band was forced to wing a Tony Orlando song for the orderlies at a hospital staff party; the time he woke up to find himself being assaulted with cabbages, etc.). This drains Cured of its unique voice but is probably more befitting a man in his fifties who has been through the darkness and is now apparently in a much happier place. As its title implies, Cured has a happy ending. Happy endings may not be very Cure-like, but Tolhurst is a man, not a Goth cartoon character, and his book does a good job of scrubbing away the makeup and hairspray to reveal the human being beneath the stage persona. And since he doesn’t get too deeply into stripping Smith to his core, that Cure mystique remains very much in place.
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