[a.k.a. #2 of However Many I Care to List, in No Particular Order: Albums That I Have Listened To Both Intermittently And Incessantly, That I Imagine I Will Continue To Listen To Periodically For The Remainder Of My Life, Which I Consider To Be The Seminal Works Of (Or Most Accessible Entry Points To) Musical Artists Whom I Believe Have Been Woefully Underrated And Criminally Underrepresented In The Modern Music Canon At Large, And Which Also At Some Point While Playing I Have Very Likely Been Asked To Turn Down or Turn Off]
Today, we’re in luck! This is one of only two Curve albums available to stream on Spotify (their complete discography is available on their Bandcamp page)… Come Clean is basically their comeback album, after a five-year hiatus in the mid-nineties. A somewhat more varied work than their initial (yet still stellar) output, I remember listening to it upon its release, and how my smile just grew with each successive killer track.
Guitarist Dean Garcia and vocalist Toni Halliday (originally introduced to each other, legend has it, by Dave Stewart of the Eurythmics) weren’t just reuniting to cash in on the mainstream success that Garbage had garnered aping their style in the interim, they meant serious business, right from the get-go, with The Prodigy-esque “Chinese Burn.”
Other nods to contemporary artists follow (PJ Harvey on “Dog Bone,” Portishead on “Alligators Getting Up”), all folded comfortably into a massive nest of wiry noise. “Dirty High” is perhaps my favorite Curve cut of all time (featuring lyrics that just so happen to accurately describe what it’s like to listen to the rest of their catalogue).
Not quite shoegaze, not quite industrial, not quite noise-pop, Curve’s claim on this particular plot of semi-dark soundscaping remains, at least to my ears, unchallenged. (One of the things in common between all the artists I’m listing here is that I have a tendency to sink into their discographies, once I put on any Curve, I invariably get into a groove and end up listening to most or all of it.)
They took a seemingly simple formula–relentlessly noisy guitars and deadpan female vocals–and ran with it about as far anyone could go. At first listen, it may appear that they are repeating themselves, but soon enough it becomes clear that they simply know exactly what they want to sound like, mining a rich vein of distortion and disillusionment all the way to their final few internet-only collections. Great accompaniment for driving around aimlessly, painting large surfaces, and/or getting over exes.