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Robert Smith seeks a cure for what ails him

Young bands — New York's Rapture, most notably and successfully — cite Robert Smith's London outfit The Cure as a holy source, a development nobody apart from the Cure's planet of black-clad fans might have guessed. The Cure sold records, claiming and saving lives during the '80s, when Robert Smith and his alternating sidemen fit in nowhere in the U.S. except in the haze of "post-punk English rock." They weren't commercialistas, didn't skew political, and, for all Smith's romantic and literary concerns, didn't play as hostile art snobs. Jon Pareles in the New York Times once suggested them as kings of "mope rock." At least it wasn't "smeared-lipstick rock," which was where other U.S. commentators placed them. But the Cure were not about categories; they were about obsession. In the fictitious psychiatric appointment that follows, we explore the various obsessions of Smith and company, as the group is in the midst of its umpteenth U.S. tour and finalizing its 13th studio album, set for release in September.

"Dr. Black, your 11 o'clock is here."

"Very well. Send him in."

Psychologist Heather Black had been looking forward to her appointment with the Cure's Robert Smith for two reasons. First, Disintegration had ruled her in high school. Second, Smith being responsible for such a mag-effing-nificent symphony of melancholia, the singer was the white whale of mental-health professionals everywhere.

Dr. Black: Hello, Robert. It's nice to meet you.

Robert Smith: Hello.

HB: Please make yourself comfortable. You can lie down on the couch, if you like.

RS: I'd prefer not to. [Points to head.] Believe it or not, this hair doesn't do itself.

HB: Let's get started. What brings you here, Robert? Is it because you're depressed? I bet you're depressed, right?

RS: Not at all — and that's the problem. For some time now, my Mondays haven't been blue, nor my Tuesdays gray and Wednesday, too. I'm just going through the motions with this whole gloom thing. I am secretly ridiculously happy.

HB: What do you mean?

RS: One day, I woke up and realized that life's too short to be all mopey. You've got to focus on the positive. Good-hair days. Hanging out underwater with saxophone-playing octopuses. Prank-calling Morrissey.

HB: And being happy is bad?

RS: Hello! I'm Robert Smith from the Cure! There's a certain expectation here. And the thing is, we're not even goth!

HB: [Arches eyebrow.]

RS: Okay, maybe we're a little goth.

HB: Your lipstick is smeared.

RS: Fine! We can be pretty goth. At times.

HB: I don't know — I listened to Disintegration again earlier this week, and it's one moody record. At the very least, it made me want to put on a sweater and drink some hot tea.

RS: All right, then what about "Just Like Heaven"? That's, like, one of the poppiest songs ever. They even named a Reese Witherspoon romantic comedy after it. So tell me, how goth can that be?

HB: I think she's in a serious coma for most of that movie.

RS: But then she wakes up and finds true love! Augh, I need to get depressed.

HB: Like, "Boys Don't Cry" depressed, or movie Boys Don't Cry depressed?

RS: Like, I-just-heard-that-crappy-311-remake-of-"Lovesong"-for-the-first-time depressed.

HB: Yikes — look, this may violate the doctor-patient relationship, but maybe it will help. Disintegration was just about all that got me through high school, and I'd like to give you my teenage journal. It's full of poetry and drawings I did while listening to your music. I even drew the Cure's logo on it right there on the cover during drama club.

RS: Wait — what's this right by it?

HB: It's a Smiths logo. They were my other favorite.

RS: Ugh. [Rolls eyes.] Morrissey. [Pause.] Should we prank-call him, then?

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