CURVE….the darker side of shoegaze?

“SHOEGAZE” IS OVER TWENTY YEARS OLD NOW (DOES THAT MAKE IT ‘CLASSIC ROCK’?).  IT HAS BEEN CONTINUING A STEADY INFLUENCE OVER THE YEARS ON NEW BANDS, WHILE RE-ISSUES OF ‘CLASSIC’ SHOEGAZE ALBUMS ARE STARTING TO EMERGE.

EXACTLY WHAT, OR WHO, IS SHOEGAZE IS A WIDELY DEBATED TOPIC, THOUGH POP HISTORY HAS CHOSEN CERTAIN BANDS AS EXAMPLES OF THE TIME AND PLACE IN (mostly) BRITISH MUSIC TO TYPIFY THE SOUND.  RIDE, SLOWDIVE AND MY BLOODY VALENTINE ARE WIDELY CITED, THOUGH CHAPTERHOUSE, THE HOUSE OF LOVE, THE ECSTASY OF ST THERESA, KITCHENS OF DISTINCTION AND CURVE AREN’T USUALLY TOPPING MANY LISTS.

WE SUPPOSE SHOEGAZE IS A SOMEWHAT SUBJECTIVE (AND GOOFY) TERM TO BEGIN WITH, AND MOST LIKELY NOT EVEN THE MOST APPROPRIATE FOR A BAND LIKE CURVE.  CURVE DIDN’T REALLY SHARE THE SAME DREAMY, SOFT-EDGED WALL-OF-SOUND APPROACH AS A NUMBER OF THEIR CONTEMPORARIES.  THEY HAD MORE OF A KNIVES-OUT ATTITUDE THAT WAS SOMEHOW AGGRESSIVE YET…..SEXY?  A BIT MORE MENACE THAN MELANCHOLY?  THE VOICE OF TONI HOLIDAY COULD SOOTH LIKE A LOVER THEN TURN LIKE A LOVER JILTED.  THE MIX OF LIVE AND SEQUENCED DRUMS HIT YOU HARD IN THE FACE WITH DEAN GARCIA’S BASS LINES DRIVING AND SNAKING THE RHYTHMS FORWARD.  THE GUITARS MIGHT DRAW THE MOST COMPARISONS TO OTHER SHOEGAZE ACTS (AH, THE DUELING FENDER JAGUARS!), BUT THERE IS A SUSTAINED SHARPNESS IN SOUND AND ATTACK WITH THE GUITARS THAT OTHER BANDS ONLY TOUCHED IN DYNAMIC MOMENTS.

CURVE RELEASED TWO ALBUMS IN 1992.  THE DEBUT FULL-LENGTH ALBUM DOPPELGANGER AND PUBIC FRUIT, A REPACKAGING OF THEIR FIRST THREE E.P.S (FROM 1991) TOGETHER WITH THE SINGLE “FAIT ACCOMPLI”.   BOTH ARE FANTASTIC RECORDS DEMONSTRATING THE BAND AT THE HEIGHT OF THEIR POWERS, WORTH TRACKING DOWN IF YOU DON’T OWN THEM, OR RE-VISITING IF YOU DO.

WE (AND OTHERS AS WELL) FEEL THAT CURVE SHOULD HAVE BEEN HUGE.  THEY WERE DANCEABLE WITHOUT BEING CHEESEY, HAD CATCHY POP HOOKS IN THEIR SONGS WITH SOLID ARRANGEMENTS, A STRIKING LEAD SINGER WITH A GREAT VOICE AND WERE TALENTED MUSICIANS BOTH ON STAGE AND IN THE STUDIO.  CURVE CERTAINLY HAD THEIR FANS, BUT NEVER WIDE-REACHING SUCCESS, ESPECIALLY IN THE U.S. (YET WITHOUT THEM THERE WOULD BE NO GARBAGE, SCHOOL OF SEVEN BELLS, PAINS OF BEING PURE AT HEART, ETC.).    WE’LL LEAVE IT AT THAT, AND FOR YOU TO DECIDE……..

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1 thought on “CURVE….the darker side of shoegaze?

  1. I’ve never before read of Curve grouped in with the (music-press labelled) shoegaze aesthetic…far more associated with electo-goth bands, at least in the UK.. but I see where you’re coming from.

    Still, their first EPs were – and remain – stunning… perhaps superior than their later albums, far too slick and over-produced for this particular shoegazer…

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