Indie rock duo Curtains wrap listeners in sound blankets on Pages Of My Memory
Friends at school and college, New Delhi-based musicians Prakhar Yadav and Dev Bhardwaj evoke a sense of liberation, pumping out Hindi and English rock on Curtains’ debut album pages of my memory. In the works for three years, the bedroom project was recorded entirely using the duo’s home layout.
In what can be seen as a questionable DIY move, Yadav also mixed and mastered the eight-track album. The result is a kind of comfortable, labored rock that occasionally incorporates stargazing crescendos and shimmering guitar work. At the same time, that kind of immersive sound is missing from the album, and maybe they could have done it with a little more finesse.
Nevertheless, the intention and the message of the songs are presented very well in the most vulnerable way possible. “Pages I,” for example, is the perfect introduction in that it offers the most unexpected journey for listeners tuning in for the first time. There is an elevated bridge which is the strongest part of the English track. The curtains win out with ‘Kal’, with a spacious, shoegaze rock sound that packs more punch in terms of volume, intensity and Hindi lyrics. The piano and string synth portions are significant additions, and any listener would now be impressed.
There are stylistic choices to include two cinematic and intriguing fillers, including “Interlude” and the more emotive guitar-driven song “Rain.” It adds a bit of sonic diversity to the record, but you don’t really pay attention to it after a while, due to its fleeting presence overall. There’s a hint of Thom Yorke-esque falsetto and wistful Radiohead arrangements on “The Moment,” which also deftly delivers a charge-and-retreat rock cadence.
pages of my memory includes two previous 2021 singles, including “Manzar” and “Sagar.” Through a raw delivery of metaphors on ‘Sagar’, there’s a serious attempt by Curtains to sound like an arena-ready band. But production-wise as well as their choice of altered vocals, they step inward a bit and perhaps intentionally on ‘Sagar’, with an organ solo making for a disconcerting addition. But again, it feels like Rideaux is trying not to take the familiar sonic routes.
“Manzar” also comes across as a lo-fi, intentionally less polished sound gleaned from The Local Train or aswekeepsearching. It feels more destined for the ragged college competition stages than any headline at the moment, though the emotion of the track can really hit.
Curtains team up with Kevin Verghese and Gayatri Deepak to wrap up the album with “Pages II” and here we encounter a depth that really ties things together. The four-minute closing song is an encouraging sign of what the duo can achieve. It’s plaintive and honest with lyrics about the past and making peace with it, cleverly incorporating string elements and not feeling like a drag. Although 24 minutes shouldn’t seem like a laborious listening period, pages of my memory veers into that territory at times, but the curtains thankfully make up for it in the end.