Curve has had more of their share of ups and downs. Yet even when their career looked its bleakest, the band continued to make great music. When Estupendo/Universal told the band that their album Gift would be shelved, they continued to write and record. After posting several mp3s on their website, Toni Halliday and Dean Garcia had enough material to fill another album. As Gift was still tied up in legal battles with the major label, Curve independently released Open Day at the Hate Fest through their website. As the band enjoyed brisk sales of their self-release, they received word from Universal that Gift was put back on schedule and would be released on their Hip-O imprint. It's interesting to consider that Gift almost never saw the light of day. While it does fit in well with the band's efforts, it sounds different enough to reveal that the duo has fresh ideas and an ability to write great melodies without recycling old ones. As Come Clean kicked things off with "Chinese Burn," a gritty track featuring slick production, skittering beats, and a dirty, guitar-driven sound, "Hell Above Water" impressively introduces Gift with an edgy riff reminiscent of late-'90s Nine Inch Nails. Gift's title track follows and reveals one of the band's slickest choruses, perfectly combining their up-tempo instrumental intensity with Toni Halliday's sultry vocal work. Seemlessly flowing from menacing tracks like "Chainmail" and "Polaroid" to smoky, electronic-laden ballads like "Perish" and "Hung Up," Gift is classic Curve with modern arrangements and energy. While mixing elements of rock and electronica together is old news for Curve, their songwriting seems more natural on this outing. Perhaps due to their more personal nature, Gift's ten tracks are among Curve's best. While bringing together an all-star mix of producers and performers, including Alan Moulder, Flood, Alan Wilder (Depeche Mode, Recoil), and Ben Grosse (Filter), Halliday and Garcia showcase their unique knack for recording songs that feature an underlying darkness, even in their lighter moments. As Garbage and Sneaker Pimps have each scored commercial success with similar blends of female lead vocals, big beats, samples, and electric guitars, Curve shows that they are among the innovators of the form and prove themselves with one of their finest efforts.
AllMusic Review by Don Kline