Originally Written and Posted at Epinions.com on 9/23/08.
Following the release of their 1992 full-length debut album Doppelganger, Curve were basking in the critical acclaim and chart success of their debut album in their native Britain. Yet, as the shoegaze music scene, that they were inspired by, was fading away. The group consisting of vocalist Toni Halliday and multi-instrumentalist Dean Garcia decided to move forward as their interest in electronic music increased. Working with Flood and Steve Osborne along with engineer Alan Moulder, Curve went to work on their electronic-driven sophomore record Cuckoo.
Produced by Flood and Steve Osborne along with mixing and engineering by Alan Moulder, Cuckoo is an album that takes Curve's unique sound of rhythmic, guitar-driven, electronic-heavy sound to newer heights. With more emphasis on electronic rhythms and collages along with Toni Halliday's striking and engaging vocals. The result, though not as superior as Doppelganger, showed the group moving forward with their sound.
The album opener Missing Link is a fast, rocking track with grinding, wailing guitar tracks, thundering bass lines, and hard-hitting electronic beats. Toni Halliday's vocals are full of attitude and sensuality with dark, gritty lyrics as it's a wonderful opener that is an ode to industrial music but with more electronic and rock flourishes. Crystal is a slower yet hypnotic track with shimmering guitars and throbbing, electronic bass tracks from Dean Garcia. With Halliday's sexy, eerie vocals leading the way, the song features a ringing chorus of chime-heavy, droning guitars that accompanies Halliday's sonic vocals. Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus is a bass-driven, mid-tempo track with distorted electronic beats and collages with chainsaw-like guitars in the background. Halliday's vocals are truly superb with its soft, high-pitch sensuality filled with sexual-laden lyrics that's heightened by Dean Garcia's instrumental arrangements.
All Of One is a smooth, light-percussive driven track led by its electronic arrangements and Halliday's high-pitch vocals that is later accompanied by Garcia's shimmering guitar. The song, filled with esoteric-imagery laden lyrics is filled with breaks of guitar squeals and such as it maintains an atmospheric tone due to Flood's production work. Unreadable Communication is an electronic-heavy track led by throbbing bass tracks, flourishing waves of distorted beats, and a soothing synthesizer accompaniment. Presented in smooth, mid-tempo ballad-like style, Halliday's soft, high-pitch vocals lead the way filled with dark lyrics that is later accompanied by a driving, chainsaw-like guitar track and Halliday's distorted vocals. Turkey Crossing is another beat-laden track with metallic beats, wailing guitars, and a slow yet heavy bass accompaniment. Halliday's smooth, engaging vocals lead the way with its dark, menacing lyrics that is heightened by Garcia's driving guitar in this smooth yet hypnotic cut that features a break of upbeat, rhythmic beats.
Super Blaster is a smooth, melodic-chime laden track filled with swirling electronic backgrounds and a throbbing bass line. With Halliday delivering a smooth, sensual vocal style, the song is excellent though doesn't standout with the rest of the album despite its top-notch production and presentation. Left Of Mother is an acoustic-ballad led by Garcia's washy acoustic guitar performance that's accompanied by soft, warbling electronic background. Halliday's vocals lead the way as she sings softly with her harrowing yet esoteric lyrics. With beats and the production heightening the song, it maintains it sense of atmosphere with Halliday later doing a spoken word portion of the song. It's one of the album's finest moments in terms of its production, presentation, performance, and Halliday's vocals.
Sweetest Pie is a smooth yet dream-like track with shoegaze-style guitars, electronic beats, and driving synthesizer backgrounds as Halliday sings in a sexy vocal style. With Halliday displaying great vocal acrobatics and the song delves into shoegaze style, it's another track that kind of fall shorts a bit in its expectations. The album closer is the title track is a slow yet electro-beat laden track with industrial-like rhythms and wailing guitar tracks as Halliday sings through distorted production and such with guitars blazing. The song is noted for its production and dream-like, industrial structure yet it's Halliday's vocals that really shine in this excellent closer.
When it was released in 1993, the album received good reviews from fans and critics. Yet in comparison the band's debut the year before, the album didn't receive the same sales or expectations as the Curve toured for the record. Its subsequent tour didn't go well as Curve, temporarily, disbanded until getting back together in 1996 to work on their third album Come Clean. While Cuckoo may not reach the heights of Doppelganger or the Pubic Fruit compilation album. It's still an excellent album that would satisfy fans of Curve while shoegaze enthusiasts might be a put off by the band's transition into electronic music. In the end, Cuckoo is a fine album that delivers enough great songs for fans of Curve to enjoy.
Curve Albums: Doppelganger - Pubic Fruit - (Radio Sessions) - (Come Clean) - (Open Day at Hate Fest) - (Gift) - (The New Adventures of Curve) - (The Way of Curve)
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