This is great stuff. The combination of the noises of Dean Garcia and the sultry vocals of Toni Halliday (plus some notable friends) makes a strong case for the nomination of Curve as “most valuable player” in the techno/electronic rock field. Gift, the groups sixth record, is a mixture of raging guitar and beats, with the Hope Sandoval-ish vocals of Halliday icing the cake. The only problem with the disc is that no matter how good an guitar/electronic-based band with a female singer is, they are going to sound like Shirley Manson and Garbage. Now Curve is leagues better than Manson and crew, but it’s still difficult to not hear echoes of their sound in these songs. The opener, ” Hell Above Water”, sidesteps this by sounding much like “Head Like a Hole”-era Nine Inch Nails, or perhaps a looser Damage Manual.

Now, the big news, and the factor that raises this record into the “hot damn” category is the presence of Kevin Shields, the mastermind of the legendary My Bloody Valentine, playing guitar on two tracks. “Want More Need Less” sounds almost like an outtake from the classic MBV album Loveless, and higher praise can’t really be awarded than that. For a player whose stock in trade sound is best defined as “aggressive murk”, Shields certainly is a distinctive, raging voice. “Perish”, which was already a great song, is exploded with his guitar, making you wish the silly sod would find a studio and a label and RELEASE SOMETHING! But if guest spots on friends’ records (particularly when they are as enjoyable as Gift) is how we get to hear him, then so be it.

Hip-O Records,

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