“Curse” From Universal Dice

The first single “Curse” from Universal Dice’s new album Misfit Memoirs throws down a gauntlet challenging the idea that classic rock is passe. Gerry Dantone’s creative stewardship over Universal Dice has produced several memorable moments already, but “Curse” ranks among the finest work yet from this unit. It harbingers a brilliant release with Misfits Memoirs while standing on its own as a thoroughly satisfying musical experience. The classic virtues of first-rate songwriting are in evidence from beginning to end and patiently developed with a steady and confident hand. “Curse” checks off all the boxes you may have for solid songwriting and focuses on intensely human emotions. There are no shortcuts. 

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The song’s structure reflects this. One of Dantone’s shrewdest decisions is bookending the track with a sparse acoustic guitar that sets an appropriate mood for the song’s main body. The production renders these moments with fitting intimacy. Building the track with underlying acoustic throughout is another intelligent move. It’s a classic design for such material, something Dantone knows all too well, and he employs it in a convincing fashion. It never sounds like window-dressing. The delicate dynamics resulting from the mix of acoustic and electric guitar help elevate the song. 

Dantone’s dramatic and even slightly theatric vocals are another factor. However, the theatricality of his vocal phrasing never weighs down the track with overwrought histrionics. Dantone’s touch is light enough that it straddles the fence between emotional heft and musicality without ever dragging the song into melodramatics. Structuring the song’s lyrics as a dialogue between two obviously discontent family members serves the song well, and it affords Dantone multiple opportunities to explore his emotional range. 

His singing is enormously complementary to the arrangement. “Curse” has a mid-tempo pace, and the measured intensity of his vocals fits the cut. He doesn’t overstuff the arrangement with extraneous verbiage. It’s a song lacking in wasted motion, and the lyrics and vocals lock into that aesthetic. His collaborators, longtime fixtures in Dantone’s musical life, provide able support and are sympathetic to the songwriting’s aims. 


It is likely best that “Curse” finds its ultimate consideration judged alongside the remainder of Misfits Memoirs. It’s obviously the piece in a full-length puzzle rather than a disparate tune. Nevertheless, “Curse” can be appreciated on its own merits. It is an ideal first single for the new album that reaffirms Universal Dice’s ongoing commitment to writing and releasing top-shelf adult material rather than mindless commercial fare. It has the potential to appeal to a wide swath of the listening public. 

These numerous factors and more position “Curse” as one of 2024’s most fulfilling singles. Gerry Dantone and Universal Dice continue carving out an individual niche in the modern musical landscape that looks to the past for inspiration while presenting a thoroughly current face to the world. Five-star craftsmanship abounds throughout the entirety of this performance. He strikes a nerve with this raw, unyielding, yet profoundly affecting single and furthers Universal Dice’s claim to be one of the most rewarding musical acts working today. 

Gwen Waggoner