Doppelganger, by Curve
Suggested by Stuart Emerson
On the Album Reveal video for this review, Stuart commented that this particular album is a personal high-point for him. After a couple of suggestion that reviewed poorly, he was worried that another low score would crush his spirit.
On one hand, I feel for him. No one likes to learn their musical tastes are incorrect. But on the obverse, on the side of those twenty-one remainders in the Great UnRandomised, I say someone with five selections chosen thus far should be grateful that the Big Grey Button has bestowed its love upon him, many tmes, from multiple angles.
So I can’t promise miracles, Stu. But I swear I’ll be fair, so have faith in your selection, and I’m sure they’ll do you proud.
Doppelganger, noun: an apparition of double of a living person.
On a lot of levels that matter, Curve have a musical doppelganger. They’re the spitting image of Garbage.
To say that Curve have a distinctive Garbage sound isn’t strictly fair. First, it’s important to note the intent of the Capital G, as Curve are far from garbage. But more tellingly, Curve were formed in 1990, a full three years before their obviously influenced soundalikes. Where Curve largely floundered, Garbage prevailed. Maybe it was a sound adrift of the timeline be a couple of years… Curve, it appears, were ahead of the curve.
Doppelganger is their first studio album, on the back of three well-received EPS that were eventually compiled into a single release with a most awesome title: Pubic Fruit. If I ever form a Death Metal group, that’s the band name sorted.
Curve’s sound is multi-layered and lush, with many different guitars jostling for space like angry villagers at a town hall meeting. There’s a rock-and-dance blended feel, packed with reverb and other distortions, overlayed with an ethereal vocal track that shapes the gritted clay into something with form, function and aesthetic charm.
The sound is cacophonous, backed with heavy beats, but also soothing, as Tony Halliday’s excellent vocals act as a lozenge to the rasping edge. As for songs, every track on the album sticks its hand in the air to gain the teacher’s attention. My favourite is the Horror Head, a swirling swinger with a tiny taste of India, but you can’t go wrong with the frenetic Fait Accompli, or the acerbic Wish You Dead, or the brutal ballad of Sandpit. Each track has something fresh to offer, while retaining a clarity and cohesion of style.
If I had to pick nits, I think there’s only one in the musical barnet. While the shoegazing style calls for an obscuring of the vocal track, dropping it into the overwhelming wall of noise created by the layered guitars and multiple effects, I think I’d have appreciated a tad more clarity. I put stock in the vocal, perhaps to a fault, so perhaps this is my issue rather than theirs.
Doppelganger scores highly on my personal pleasure scale. I give this album a steady 8/10. When they play it straight, Curve are a delight.
There ya go, Stu. I hope that makes you smile.