Various Artists | Just Like Heaven: A Tribute to The Cure
Most Likely To: make you dust off Staring at the Sea.
Looks like New Wave is still all the rage. American Laundromat Records celebrates our undying love for The Cure with sixteen tracks of top notch covers by indie sweethearts like New Zealanders The Brunettes and North Carolina’s Rosebuds.
The album’s title track and opener revisits Robert Smith’s lovey-dovey Billboard hit “Just Like Heaven,” done up by NYC rockers Joy Zipper. Sounding more like a guy-girl duet, the Joy Zipper version’s irresistible charm makes it hard not to sing along. With its 1980s drumbeats and sailing guitar riffs, the whole track sort of makes you wish you were momentarily courting Molly Ringwald in a John Hughes flick. The following track is Tanya Donelly and Dylan In the Movies’ take on one of The Cure’s strangest, “The Lovecats,” which purrs in all cabaret and cat-like. Just as strange as the original, Donelly’s smoky, whispery delivery meshes perfectly with Brian Sullivan’s deeply debonair vocals, making Smith’s feline romantics sexier and less quirky.
The Brunettes rendition of the overplayed but revered “Lovesong” is about a thousand times better than 311’s 2004 attempt. Taking a synthy low-fi approach, the Jonathan Bree and Heather Mansfield prove their melodic chemistry while reminding listeners how sophisticated pop can be. Unsigned left coasters Kitty Karlyle totally rock “In Between Days.” More driving and pop-punk aggressive, the whole track sort of makes you want to crowd surf or raise your fist (but in a good way). Dean & Britta’s “Friday I’m In Love” is a bit washed out when compared to the original, slowing things down with an almost vocally apathetic, acoustic take on Smith’s work week love song. Despite their down-tempo approach, the song feels genuine and sun drenched.
The Submarines’ version of “Boys Don’t Cry” is a little slower but just as honest as the original, giving listeners more time to take in Smith’s mouthful of lyrics, enhancing the universality of the song’s narrative. The Rosebuds’ “The Walk” screams dance dance with its disco backbeat and hypnotic vocals, recalling a bit of Liverpool’s Echo and the Bunnymen. Brooklynites Elizabeth Harper & the Matinee’s version of “Pictures Of You” redeems the song from its TV commercial past while Cassettes Won’t Listen’s “Let’s Go To Bed” clap-clap action is a dance party waiting to happen.
“Catch,” covered by Devics, possesses the same nonchalance of its predecessor with deliberate enunciation and ’60s pop guitar. Julie Peel’s folky performance of “A Night Like This” creates a new sense of introspective determination, playing out like a last minute plea or pledge. Romantic and sad, like most songs by the Cure, Peel’s vocals are delicate and longing. “10:15 Saturday Night” is gorgeous, polished up and re-presented by The Poems while Grand Duchy’s version of “A Strange Day” feels like a cover inspired by The Smiths’ Johnny Marr. The album’s final track, The Wedding Present’s “High,” finishes things off with an indie rock intro reminiscent of The Anniversary’s “Designing A Nervous Breakdown.”
Impressive from start to finish, Just Like Heaven is exactly that. A modernized interpretation of the Cure’s best, American Laundromat Records’ tribute to Robert Smith and his gang is hot hot hot!!!