The Cure's 1989 album Disintegration was the band's inarguable artistic peak, and surprisingly also their biggest commercial success to date. A rare feat for any group, but especially unexpected when considering how Disintegration abandoned much of the pop excitement the Cure had been working with through the mid-'80s and returned to the drawn-out and depressive textural rock of their early days. Disintegration's grim grandeur and epic presentation had an air of finality, and its perfect synthesis of everything the band had explored leading up to it put the Cure in a very difficult spot when it was time to follow up. Almost three years passed before 1992's Wish arrived, continuing Disintegration's slow-moving torment on songs like "Apart" and the violin-underscored "To Wish Impossible Things," but bringing back melody and upbeat tempos to a handful of standout tracks. Bandleader/songwriter Robert Smith had established a style that evoked childlike playfulness and wonderment on the Cure's earlier pop-leaning singles, and the happier, more energetic moments on Wish find that style coming into its own. While "Friday I'm in Love" became one of the band's most popular songs and a definitive moment for early-'90s alternative pop on the whole, Smith's knack for bittersweet melodies and arrangements that take their time unfolding are better exemplified in Wish's less ubiquitous tracks. The gorgeous midtempo pop of "A Letter to Elise" is as vulnerable as it is deftly constructed, with guitar and synth countermelodies gradually stacking as the song builds. "Doing the Unstuck" is similarly dense, with its repeated refrain of "Let's get happy!" suggesting some winking self-awareness on Smith's part. Wish splits the difference between Disintegration-esque dreariness and the kind of glum pop Smith was a master of at this point. Moving seamlessly from the detached social anxiety of an obligatory music industry party on first track "Open" to genuine optimism and lovestruck devotion on "High" sets the tone for Wish. It's an album that can't help but live in the shadow of its immediate predecessor to some extent, but it manages to carve out an identity of its own by examining the extremes of Smith's songwriting personality --- crushing despair and whimsical pop --- and making intentional space for both. [The Deluxe 30th Anniversary edition includes the entire studio album as well as previously unreleased demos, studio outtakes, and live performances from the Wish era.]

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