In the alternative rock/electronica segment, Curve frontwoman Toni Halliday has tried to distance herself from being compared to similar acts like St. Etienne and Garbage, whom she referred to the latter as being "a pop band, and Curve were never a pop band." Bold claim possibly. She is the one half of this former London act, the other being multi-instrumentalist Dean Garcia. They split up in 2005 after fifteen years and five studio albums with modest success. While I was aware of their existence during the 1990s, I never really heard much of their labours until recently I heard Hell Above Water again for the first time in ten years.
On occasion I received the odd Youtube video and while nodding in acknowledgement to their talents, it's taken me the same fifteen years before I began taking them seriously. Gift was their fourth and penultimate release and follows a similar pattern to their preceding records with great emphasis on electronic beats and loops with the obligatory six string giving it a slight rocky edge. They're not quite as joie-de-vivre as New Order, perhaps a little more austere and moody, and Ms. Halliday's vocal range stands comparison with that of Sarah Cracknell's (St. Etienne).
Heavy beats and almost stoner laden guitars in Hell Above Water is the aperitif for Gift. It's a notable tune and has been featured heavily in a couple of blockbusters (eg Iron Man). The title track too is very catchy and helps to set the scene of the album. By quite some margin, it's my highlight on the 43 minute piece.
Hung up is an airy and dreamy number without getting too lightweight while Chainmail threatens to sample some bleeps from Manfred Mann's Blinded By The Light but quickly the guitars take charge with some edge along with straightforward rhythms. The chorus beat in Fly With The High feels the most hurried and more urgent of the album songs and My Tiled White Floor starts off promisingly but I think it's a tad overproduced with all the instruments and vocals ending up competing for the same floorspace.
On the whole, edgy and musically enchanting, but I'm afraid it's not a paraphrase on Toni Halliday's alternative rock claim and even as the music seems to go to fade on the closing Bleeding Hearts track it turns explosive for the final half minute with "Should've seen it coming" a la Strawberry Fields Forever. No real point in that it but nevertheless, Gift is a bona fide strong album I've found very entertaining and quite sensory uplifting. I do lament the demise of Curve and it's my hope that someday Halliday and Garcia will rediscover their funk and reform. M. Richardson 03/08/2013.
8 out of ten. Oh, now you have my attention, and maybe my money, time and heart.
The album isn't available to listen on Spotify, only a handful of songs on this link.
Gift can be purchased here on Amazon
This is a link to Curve's official website although they have been inactive since 2005