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"Curvacious"

In Britain, alternative women rockers have broken out of the tired old stereotypes. They've
created a new one - the ethereal girl... SIMON REYNOLDS asks, Is Curve too good to be true?

"I absolutely believe there's no point to anything if it's devoid of glamour," says Toni Halliday, singer for England's Curve. "The kind of glamour I love isn't models posing in expensive clothes, but someone like Patti Smith. Glamour's not about perfection, it's about character."

Halliday's peeved about her US record company's wrong-headed marketing ideas, which involve precisely the kind of stylised glamour she detests. "They want us to do shoots for fashion magazines, and I had to tell them I'm not a fucking model." The 27-year old Halliday and partner Dean Garcia are music-biz veterans who've had their fingers burned too many times before; with Curve, they want to be presented exactly right.

Six years ago the pair were 50 percent of State of Play, a group totally bound to mid-'80s state-of-the-art values. "We were really high tech and overproduced," confesses Halliday. Despite the patronage of the Eurythmics' Dave Stewart, State of Play flopped. When the group split acrimoniously, Halliday embarked on an abortive solo career, and Garcia exiled himself to a Spanish village.

After a four-year estrangement, Halliday and Garcia made up and decided to give stardom another shot, attuning their new music to a totally new set of Brit-rock values. Curve's debut EP Blindfold (released on Dave Stewart's Anxious label in early 1991), was greeted rapturously by the British rock press. But by its second EP Frozen, the backlash began: Sceptics complained that Curve was just too hip, that the band's music was a composite of fashionable elements calculated to appeal to rock critics.

What Curve has derived from bands such as the Cocteaus and the Valentines, though, is not so much specific ideas as a spatial approach to sound, what Halliday calls "musical landscaping." Curve thinks of songs in terms of the "air bit" or "the desert bit," rather than bridges or middle eights. Dean crafts the lush, turbulent soundscapes. Halliday titles such as "Sandpit," "Split Into Fractions," and "Clipped," from Curve's latest LP Doppelgänger, hint at paralysis, claustrophobia, entrapment. Where does all the fear and loathing come from?

"It's 'cause I'm a woman! Women are dreadful, the most vengeful creatures. Every woman writer that I like has that element of anger, where they're hurt and they're nasty about it." Halliday's formative influences include the few singer-songwriters who explore female negativity, such as Siouxsie and Patti Smith. So would she like to be a female role model for the next pop generation?

"The thing is, I don't know if I'd be a good role model!" says Halliday, laughing. Dean mutters softly, as if privy to bitter experience, "What an appalling idea."

(article nicked from 'Spin', April 1992)

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