But wait, there's more. Initial pressings of Greatest Hits come with a revelatory second disc that offers acoustic versions of all seventeen A-sides, including the bonus babies. The unplugged format doesn't suit every act, but The Cure thrives, revealing the stark emotional core buried deep within some of its peppiest ditties. Without its layers of hypercheery keyboards and persistent synthetic pulse, "Let's Go to Bed" becomes more notable for its anxious expression of longing than its dance-floor potential. "The Love Cats," always a bit of a lark, obtains a jazzy soul. And "The Walk" strolls down previously unexplored melodic twists, guided by subtle shifts in instrumentation. Most stunningly, Hits' bonus disc recasts the famously sullen group as a fun-loving pop outfit.
Granted, the selections were consciously chosen to reflect The Cure's sunny side (frontman Robert Smith has hinted that a collection of the band's gloomier gems might be in the works), but the acoustic album adds such personable touches as Smith's uttering playful asides during "Close to Me" and ending several tunes with a feisty yowl. Hits' second disc delivers with perfect sound quality the kind of small-concert intimacy and musical alterations that drive fans to pricey bootlegs. By pairing its two freshly penned tracks (both of which are appealingly perky, by the way) with a real value-added treat, The Cure has done what seemed impossible: Its third singles collection, released just four years and no hits after its previous one, seems essential.