This is the first new music from the Cure since 2000's Bloodflowers, and their debut for Ross Robinson's I Am label, with Robinson also climbing aboard as co-producer with Robert Smith. Smith had allegedly "retired", but the recuperation period seems to have worked wonders because this strikes a near-perfect balance between the various facets of the band's history. As you'd expect, there are great fog-banks of opulent gloom, which come rolling down the sinister corridors of Anniversary and boil up through the slow-motion churn of The Promise, but however racked and agonised Smith's singing and lyrics become, the album always feels carefully shaped and balanced.
For a long time, maybe 15 years or so, Robert Smith rumbled about the Cure's imminent retirement whenever the band had a new album ready for release. Invariably, Smith said the particular album served as a fitting epitaph, and it was now time for him to bring the Cure to an end and pursue something else, maybe a solo career, maybe a new band, maybe nothing else. This claim carried some weight when it was supporting a monumental exercise in dread, like Disintegration or Bloodflowers, but when applied to Wild Mood Swings, it seemed like no more than an empty threat, so fans played along with the game until Smith grew tired of it, abandoning it upon the 2004 release of his band's eponymous 13th album.