It's somehow telling that the first proper box set from The Cure focuses not on giving a well-rounded picture of the group, but, instead, focuses narrowly on compiling detritus Robert Smith and his cohorts gathered over the course of their 13-year tenure with Fiction Records. The single-minded devotion that The Cure has earned from their fans over the past 25 years is matched in the alternative universe only by the teary-eyed love Smiths fans have for Morrissey. It is to those obsessive types that a box set like this would be most obviously aimed. Yet "Join the Dots" succeeds not only as a completist archive, but also as a document of the rock & roll heart that, surprisingly enough, was beating behind most of The Cure's best work. Almost in spite of the rarefied air which his idolizers insist he breathes, Robert Smith has remained something of a down-to-earth dandy, and though he's always been more than willing to commiserate, he's been equally ready to be a pop dork or a venomous rocker. The 70 tracks (spread across four discs) explore all those outlets, plus others. A good half of the material here is trite crap, while, say, another 10 percent of it is simply lazy (the predominance of "remixes" during the group's latter years is alarming). However, the remaining tracks are absolutely incredible, especially the way the raw slashings of early cuts like "Pillbox Tales" and unheralded pop gems like "Sugar Girl" counter the prevailing trends of gloomy atmospherics that defined the band's albums. To be honest, a single-disc distillation of the best of this material would have been plenty, but, then again, with fans like these ....
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