The past looms large on The Cure, and not merely in the way Robert Smith's Goth-dust-mop hairstyle and mascara-mad makeup are alarmingly unchanged. Smith desperately wants to believe the world hasn't been altered in ''Labyrinth,'' which feels like the latest post-9/11 reaction song, and longingly reflects on romantic flings in ''Before Three'' and ''Anniversary.'' The newly vibrant music looks back lovingly as well on a time when Cure songs managed to combine a throbbing, oingo-boingo springiness with the depressive angst of suburban-basement isolation.
Yet the same newfound aggression coproducer Ross Robinson (Korn) brings to the project can backfire; Smith is a little too long in the tooth for the ranting-adolescent tirades that consume the likes of ''Lost.'' As with Prince on ''Musicology.'' Smith allows the Cure's current lineup to become his own tribute band. But then along comes an exuberant, albeit very retro, rocket-ship ride like ''Taking Off,'' and you temporarily forgive Smith his stasis. Although they've become the next generation of classic-rock dinosaurs, the Cure have a few stomps left in them.