The Curls Skewer 'Lowest Forms of Entertainment' in Outlandish Video (premiere)

Chicago sextet the Curl's "Hit Em Where It Hurts" is the latest showcase of the group's addictive quirkiness.

Bands don't come more deliciously — yet naturally — weird than the Curls. Nigh-impossible to succinctly describe or pigeonhole into any indie rock subgenre, the Chicago sextet has that tongue-in-cheek, madcap derangement that makes one think of Captain Beefheart and the Magic Band reincarnated for the 2010s with inverted pop sensibilities in place of abrasive elements.

Bizarre as their pastiche of sounds is, it's self-conscious without being forced or a put-on. Their video for latest single "Hit Em Where It Hurts" serves as a nugget of their uncanny valley-like approach to indie pop (maybe avant-pop is a suitable term). Carried by a minimalistic bass line and synth notes that create a hypnotic, psychedelic swirl, Anna Holmquist intones a deadpan vocal melody, oft-reciting the title like a instructional mantra. The video's fragmented '80s aesthetic — heavy on dayglo colors, tracksuits, cat-headed band members, and send-ups of late night talk shows and 2:00 am infomercials — is an apt visual approximation of the smirking revelry at the core of the song.

The video is the latest of several the Curls' have unveiled since the release of their 2017 debut album SUPER UNIT. It was directed and edited by Matthew Shelton, who also helmed the video for the band's "Birdland".

"We filmed in a school auditorium in Chicago, which was being used for some kind of church service the day we came in to plan out the shoot," said Mick Fansler, the Curls' resident maestro. "We had to pretend we were there for the service to get a good look at the space. I think watching part of that service helped inspire some of the things we ended up shooting. The basic concept is to sort of invite viewers into a universe populated by the lowest, most shit forms of entertainment (late night talk shows, soap operas, reality shows, etc.) and display them in their true form. Maybe it's like turning on cable TV or scrolling through the Internet with a pair of glasses that helps you see and feel what's actually being communicated. Or you could not think much into it at all and just have a fun, disorienting sensory experience."

On the horizon, the Curls are releasing their sophomore full-length on Chicago label Diversion Records in the spring. They're also set for their first South By Southwest gig and will be playing some showcases in the Austin area in March.

"Otherwise," Fansler said, "the plan for this year is the same as it ever was — to keep creating and releasing a steady stream of quality content until people give us the attention, money, and respect that we so clearly deserve."





90 Years on 'Olivia' Remains a Classic of Lesbian Literature

It's good that we have our happy LGBTQ stories today, but it's also important to appreciate and understand the daunting depths of feeling that a love repressed can produce. In Dorothy Strachey's case, it produced the masterful Olivia.


Indie Rocker Alpha Cat Presents 'Live at Vox Pop' (album stream)

A raw live set from Brooklyn in the summer of 2005 found Alpha Cat returning to the stage after personal tumult. Sales benefit organizations seeking to end discrimination toward those seeking help with mental health issues.

Love in the Time of Coronavirus

A Lesson from the Avengers for Our Time of COVID-19

Whereas the heroes in Avengers: Endgame stew for five years, our grief has barely taken us to the after-credit sequence. Someone page Captain Marvel, please.


Between the Grooves of Nirvana's 'Nevermind'

Our writers undertake a track-by-track analysis of the most celebrated album of the 1990s: Nirvana's Nevermind. From the surprise hit that brought grunge to the masses, to the hidden cacophonous noise-fest that may not even be on your copy of the record, it's all here.


Deeper Graves Arrives via 'Open Roads' (album stream)

Chrome Waves, ex-Nachtmystium man Jeff Wilson offers up solo debut, Open Roads, featuring dark and remarkable sounds in tune with Sisters of Mercy and Bauhaus.

Featured: Top of Home Page

The 50 Best Albums of 2020 So Far

Even in the coronavirus-shortened record release schedule of 2020, the year has offered a mountainous feast of sublime music. The 50 best albums of 2020 so far are an eclectic and increasingly "woke" bunch.


First Tragedy, Then Farce, Then What?

Riffing off Marx's riff on Hegel on history, art historian and critic Hal Foster contemplates political culture and cultural politics in the age of Donald Trump in What Comes After Farce?


HAIM Create Their Best Album with 'Women in Music Pt. III'

On Women in Music Pt. III, HAIM are done pretending and ready to be themselves. By learning to embrace the power in their weakest points, the group have created their best work to date.


Amnesia Scanner's 'Tearless' Aesthetically Maps the Failing Anthropocene

Amnesia Scanner's Tearless aesthetically maps the failing Anthropocene through its globally connected features and experimental mesh of deconstructed club, reggaeton, and metalcore.


How Lasting Is the Legacy of the Live 8 Charity Concert?

A voyage to the bottom of a T-shirt drawer prompts a look back at a major event in the history of celebrity charity concerts, 2005's Live 8, Philadelphia.


Jessie Ware Embraces Her Club Culture Roots on Rapturous 'What's Your Pleasure?'

British diva Jessie Ware cooks up a glittery collection of hedonistic disco tracks and delivers one of the year's best records with What's Your Pleasure.


Paul Weller Dazzles with the Psychedelic and Soulful 'On Sunset'

Paul Weller's On Sunset continues his recent streak of experimental yet tuneful masterworks. More than 40 years into his musical career, Weller sounds as fresh and inspired as ever.

Collapse Expand Reviews

Collapse Expand Features
PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.