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"Two-Faced"

Toni Halliday and Dean Garcia: still on the learning Curve (photo:  Steve Double) Curve's position as the slightly screwy and not-quite-trusted indie aristocrats of last year grew out of three excellent EPs, Toni Halliday's 'cheesy' musical past and their place on Dave Stewart's free-spending Anxious label.

Hence the strong dose of cynicism greeting this first album, with some critics sniffing out an industry scam and others holding their noses at the first whiff of dodgy Goth vibes.

Curve's response has been to write prolifically and to bury any self-doubt in their cavernous hi-tech arrangements. The sound of Halliday's breathy vocals over an orchestral guitar fuzz, rumbling bassline and the inspired percussion treatments possesses the kind of exotic, knife-edged power that any moody young pretender would kill for. Meanwhile, her lyrics are buried in foggy distortion, with a single word or line catching the ear - "poison", "backstabbing", "every day there is some kind of darkness" - suggesting, without risking further analysis, themes of obsession and paranoia.

Sadly, the duo's inspired feel for atmosphere, aided by producer Alan Moulder, fails to mask a shortage of melody or variety. Too often - as with the dark'n'whispery 'Lillies Dying' and the aptly named title track (a soundalike of everything else on the album) - there's a horrible feeling that Curve have been offering fool's gold: shimmering with good things on the surface but lacking the substance to be of any real value.

There are striking moments, mostly reserved for 'Ice That Melts The Tips' (which puts the boot in with a more melodic sonic assault), the electronic chill of 'Think And Act' and the one change of tempo and approach: 'Sandpit', which slows to heartbeat pace.

While Curve have a great sound, a pin-up singer and half-a-dozen memorable songs, they've spread themselves too thinly for this debut to be the gem the world hoped for.

6 (out of 10)

review by Steve Malins (nicked from 'Vox', dated 1992)

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