I may not be the best person to judge Just Like Heaven, a recently released Cure tribute album. When all the girls at my college were dancing to the real Goth popsters, I was busy overindulging on Joe Strummer and P.I.L. I never really “got” this band. Sure, I could appreciate some of their arty, maudlin works, like “Killing An Arab” (which isn’t on the compilation) or “Jumping Someone Else’s Train” (which is, as performed by a band called Luff), but on the whole I found the band pretty dull. On the other hand, very little of this compilation sounds like The Cure.
Full of indie bands that you’ve probably never heard of, and sprinkled with some you have, the tribute album is more of a showcase for new artists than a tribute. With few exceptions, these artists simply take lyrics and chord progressions and make songs that Robert Smith would never even have dreamed of. Sometimes, this works well, such as The Submarine’s take on “Boys Don’t Cry.” Sometimes it doesn’t. Kitty Karlyle’s “In Between Days” sounds like generic 2000 altrock, which is due more to the band than the song.
There are notable exceptions to the rule that these songs don’t sound like Cure songs. First, Elizabeth Harper and the Matinee, a band I’ve never heard of, take a Cure song I’m not familiar with, “Pictures of You,” and craft a beautiful, rainy song that has The Cure’s characteristic tinkling synth in the background. Most notably, Elk City makes a fantastic cover of “Close To Me,” staying true to the gloom of the original, but changing the timing and using vocals that sound nothing like Smith’s deep, breaking sadness. This song is easily the best on the album.
I can’t say whether Cure fans will dig this record, but as a casual listener of the band will sure enjoy the likes of Wedding Present, Cassettes Won’t Listen, and Tanya Donelly covering the band’s catalog.
You can stream it before you buy here.
And, to taste it:
And, to further honor the Cure, my 4 favorite Cure covers: