Saturday, March 8, 2014

Curve - Come Clean (1998)

A tuneful mishmash of electronic rock and dance music from the 90s

The Electronic Alternative rock band Curve’s debut album, 1992’s Doppelganger, is undoubtedly one of the most underrated albums of the ‘90s. This British duo pioneered the field of mixing gothic darkness, shoegazing dream pop and tuneful dance music, a field later popularized by likes of Garbage (and imitated by countless others). In fact, Curve could re-release Doppelganger (or their celebrated singles collection Pubic Fruit) and still sound more advanced than most of today’s bands. 

Curve took an extended vacation after 1993’s Cuckoo, but later the duo of Toni Halliday (vocals) and Dean Garcia (bass, guitar, programming) officially came back together again to produce this album. Halliday kept busy during the band’s break by working with various techno acts, while Garcia worked on a few film scores. The duo’s 1998 album, Come Clean, proved that their side projects had helped Halliday and Garcia sharpen their skills. In fact, it was not commercially successful but also critically praised.

Come Clean opens with the brilliant single "Chinese Burn", a song Halliday claims is "me talking to my alter-ego, the bad person inside me." Even after so many years, it’s as intense as anything I’ve heard it then. On the second track, "Coming Up Roses," Halliday and Garcia show a little bit of their R&B side. Garcia uses his electronic arsenal to make "Coming Up Roses" slink and slither behind Halliday’s sultry vocal performance. 

Tracks like this are Curve’s specialty – they were one of few bands that can sound as abrasive as Atari Teenage Riot one minute, and as smooth and graceful as Sarah McLachlan the next. Curve embraced remixes and electronic angst back when grunge was all the rage. Now Kurt is dead, Soundgarden has broken up (well, almost), and Bush is doing remix CDs and working on a new a album for a very long time. Sadly, Curve is also no more but its no exaggeration that Curve were ahead of their time. If you have never heard of Curve, start with this album.


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