Curve

Doppelgänger

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In 1991, British alternative rock group Curve created an enormous buzz with their first three EPs, which were solid enough to count as a proper album (they were eventually packaged in the United States as Pubic Fruit). However, they surpassed all expectations with their debut full-length, 1992's Doppelgänger, which remains their most successful, highly regarded release. Curve primarily consisted of vocalist, lyricist, and occasional guitarist Toni Halliday and multi-instrumentalist Dean Garcia, along with a few additional members who toured with the group and contributed to its recordings. They combined a dense, aggressive wall of swirling guitars and synths with highly inventive drum programming, heavy bass guitar grooves, and Halliday's sweet yet scathing vocals. Curve's noisy, searing guitars made them easy to lump in with the shoegaze scene, but they always seemed more urgent and pop-minded, and as overpowering as their sound was, it rarely obscured Halliday's brutal lyrics, and certainly not her impressively elastic voice. The group was also far more clued into dance music than many of its contemporaries. The album's singles "Horror Head" and "Faît Accompli" achieved alternative club play on both sides of the Atlantic, and the band's subsequent singles would sport remixes by the likes of Aphex Twin, Trent Reznor, and the Future Sound of London. Curve were incredibly creative in their subtle incorporation of samples and textural flourishes -- as huge and all-powerful as their guitars and beats sound, listen closer and there's even more going on inside. While most of Doppelgänger's songs are massive rushes of energy, the band slows down at the end for the lush ambient drift of "Sandpit," which might actually be the album's best song overall. Curve would continue making excellent albums and EPs after this one, and would influence countless dream pop, alternative dance, and even goth/industrial groups, but Doppelgänger remains their most powerful, essential release, and one of the best alternative albums of the early '90s.

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