Cuckoos Nest - the Curve archive

Home Discography FAQ Archive MP3 Links Contact

Images Articles Reviews Timeline

1991 1992 1993-95 1996-98 1999-01 2002

< previous next >

Curve always had aspirations above their indie roots, the carefully staged photo shoots and on-stage wind machines were evidence of that. Sure, they had big ideas and a suitably expansive sound, but their Doppelgänger debut was bloodless and bland - all surface sheen and the appearance of something exciting and dramatic without the substance to back it up. Now it seems the gloss has been stripped off and Curve are digging a little deeper and coming up with something a good deal more rewarding.

(pic: Eddie Monsoon

Its basis is the aura of despair that pervades Toni Halliday's lyrics. (She could have sung 'I'm a fish in a tutu' on Doppelgänger and it still wouldn't have made the record any more interesting.) Things start calmly enough, with 'Missing Link' cleaning up the riff from Sonic Youth's 'Catholic Block' from prop-engined clatter to a jet roar. Having got your attention, Toni and Dean then make you privy to a psychotherapy session from hell, where the mood on the couch is blacker than Ms Halliday's hair dye.

The lyrical hooks from most of the tracks are fraught with a sense of alienation, with Toni spitting out at the world. On 'Crystal' "saying sorry won't ever be enough" for her and on 'Men Are From Mars' she reckons "we won't be happy 'til we kill each other" - both sung over a backing of laser artillery and road drills. 'All Of One' hangs itself around the conclusion that "we are all just scum" and crucially shows off the broader sonic palette that ventures beyond the familiar Curve guitar rush and multi-tracked vocal choir, allowing them to carry off the semi-Goth gloom with the requisite sense of forboding that it requires. Electronic debris and random voice sample slivers now seep through the newly emerging cracks in their sound. Cuckoo is still most definitely the Curve we're accustomed to (they still do that bit in their songs where Toni's voice soars upwards from a whisper just as the rhythm kicks in), but they've acquired a rough edge that'll snag your attention.

Nowhere more so than on 'Left Of Mother'. A Kate Bush plays techno piece of full-on spookiness, it builds outwards from a combination of acoustic strum and random electro-blips only for the mad spoken bits at the end to pull the rug from under you. It's aural high drama and Curve's finest moment (barring remix collaborations) to date.

Cuckoo will sit uncomfortably in the Indie nest that Curve have always sought to fly and this time they've proved they've the skill to make that step up. "I was never just an ordinary girl/ who underwent a transformation" coos Toni on the closing title track. If she'd sung that a year ago, you'd have giggled. This time you'll believe her.

review by Gareth Grundy (nicked from 'Lime Lizard', dated 1993)

click here to go back to the top