Occasional glimpses of talent.

The Curtains are either Chris Cohen of Deerhoof's "other" band or his primary project, depending on your point of view. 'Calamity' is the project's fourth album, following 'Fast Talks' (2001), 'Flybys' (2003) and 'Vehicles Of Travel' (2004).

'Go Lucky' opens the album with a lo fi pop sound, all sparse drums, piano and guitar elements accompanied by soft vocals. Fairly melodic, this track is actually one of the best on the album although not supremely catchy or memorable. It has something of a 1960s or 1970s air to it; and this is continued in the second track 'Green Water' which features lots of vocal harmonies and almost psychedelic guitar sections. There are occasions within 'Green Water' where the melody makes the listener stop and think, but sadly these are few and far between.

The retro influence seems to retreat as the album progresses, with tracks such as 'The Thousandth Face' and 'Old Scott Rd' driven by guitar riffs and a more modern vocal style. 'Hysteria' represents the style of many tracks on the album however, being experimental and somewhat disjointed. Tracks such as, 'Invisible String', 'World's Most Dangerous Woman and title track 'Calamity' contain occasional moments of instrumental talent but remain for the most part unrefined as ideas and rather pointless as tracks, at least as far as public consumption goes. Fans of experimental music will also be disappointed, as when they look beyond the album's lack of polish they will only discover The Curtains' limited range of instruments and instrumental skill. Lyrically, almost all tracks leave much to be desired, some falling into the trap of trying to be original through "being random" but in fact sounding repetitive and ridiculous to the listener; take these lines from 'Invisible String' for example: "Invisible string / Invisible string / Invisible string inside me". Lyrical genius Chris Cohen is not.

The remaining tracks on the album are largely forgettable, with the exception of two the final three. Not that these are in any way masterpieces or particuarly worth listening to in the usual scheme of things, but compared to the other offerings made here they do deserve special mention. 'Brunswick Stew' is the album's best track. A jazzy instrumental piece, it is of course a relief to be free of Chris Cohen's whiny vocals and nonsensical lyrics, but 'Brunswick Stew' does have other merit; such as its strong shape and structure, as well as its use of instruments. Sadly following track 'Fell On A Rock And Broke It' is a disappointment. In the band's 60s 'rock' vein it delivers another pointless "random" story in untalented vocals and lacks any real meaning or feeling. In its defence, it does have a stronger beat than many of the songs here, but not one strong enough to induce foot-tapping.

Final track, 'Spinning Top' features a generous dose of choir-type vocals and a strong 60s influence throughout. It meanders along with occasional moments of mild tension generated by drums and guitars before exploding into something that could be part of the soundtrack from a 60s James Bond film. Although unarguably better than many of the tracks that populate the album's middle section, it isn't entirely clear what The Curtains hoped to achieve with it and impossible to imagine anyone wanting to stick it on repeat.

'Calamity' cannot be accused of being yet another indie-pop album, and if one thing can be said in its favour it is that it is relatively original. The 60s influences expressed within certain tracks are quite endearing, and at times the listener is treated to some lovely melodies. It isn't an exciting album however, and it isn't anything special either. Built on ideas that are not developed fully, it often sounds rushed and unrefined. The Curtains may have a future in music, but they need to take more time and care over their creations.