The Cure (Elektra/Fiction 61309)
Robert Smith's ability to distill adolescent unhappiness into tunefully downbeat rock may have led some fans to proclaim him the Pope of Mope, but that doesn't mean every song he writes for the Cure is guaranteed to be gloomy. Indeed, parts of "Wish," the Cure's latest offering, are almost giddily cheerful: Smith addresses the effervescence of infatuation in "High" and later, in "Doing the Unstuck," actually warbling, "Let's get happy!" Naturally, the Cure don't stay happy -- "End" and the melancholy, piano-flavored "Trust" find the band sounding as melancholy as ever -- but on the whole, "Wish" maintains a balance between light and dark that makes it one of the band's most satisfying efforts to date.
THE WILD LIFE
Slaughter (Chrysalis 21911)
If rock bands were graded on originality, Slaughter would have a hard time keeping its average in positive numbers. For instance, its latest album, "The Wild Life," finds the quartet copping licks from Led Zeppelin (note the lift from "The Immigrant Song" in "Times They Change") and imitating Queen (on the Mercury-al "Days Gone By"). Luckily for them, originality generally takes a back seat to musical impact, and that's one place this band doesn't fall down. Not only do the rockers, from the high-rev boogie of "Move to the Music" to the majestic thunder of "Reach for the Sky," stress the physical pleasure of loud music, but the ballads invariably emphasize melody over sentiment. Derivative, but fun.