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Curve - Gift (Hip-O)

They're back! Despite the criminal failure of music lovers the world over to buy millions of copies of "Come Clean" and make Toni Halliday the megastar she deserves to be, Toni and Dean have taken it all on the chin and produced a cracking fourth album proper. A Stateside only release (so far), which is a very clear sign that Universal don't give a flying fuck about good music (the band's been shifted from the main label to the Hip-O imprint), "Gift" is both vintage Curve and fresh as a daisy.

It opens with the thunderous 'Hell above water', all metal guitars, clear electronics and a mean snarling vocals from the lovely Toni. The title track is a slice of pure Curve, the clean and sharp electro-dance sounds topped with the cool and unreachably aloof vocals that have been much copied, but never equalled, by a certain Scot. 'Want more need less' is a perfect indie-pop track, the melodic sensibility of the early '90s updated with the technological sophistication of today.

'Perish' is a funny one - musically straightforward, but lyrically, try "staying together for the sake of the memories" for size - is Toni singing about the band? And the repetition of the word "surely" in the chorus (sounding just like the name of the afore-mentioned Scot) of a song called 'Perish'? Would Mr Freud have something to say? 'Hung up' is a step back in time, it could have come been taken from "Doppelgänger" or "Cuckoo" with the more ethereal side of the band coming to the front.

And so on it goes, I could continue to gush about the other five tracks, but there's not really much use. This is an absolute classic, Curve get better with each release. Alas, there's probably little or no chance the world's gonna notice this, but we can always hope. Buy from MNS

Donnacha DeLong

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