Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Cursive Overload! (Mama, I'm Swollen)


Possibly the Cursive record most suited to be a project of Tim Kasher's alternate outlet, the Good Life, Mama, I'm Swollen is less dissonant, somewhat less bitter than the rest of Cursive's catalog. A good share of Kasher's lyrics (particularly since 2003's The Ugly Organ) have somewhat mocked his audience and the way he feeds his fans the regurgitated pain they've come to expect from him, forcing him to peg himself as the songwriter who shares every ounce of vulnerability he's built up. Pick a topic, whether it be sexuality or emotional maturity, and he's not only felt it but written about it, then written another song to match on how he's expected to keep telling the story of what he's felt and written.

Mama isn't as musically impressive as Organ, necessarily as much of a concept as Happy Hollow, but there's a bit of a rhythm to it, particularly with the title track, “I Couldn't Love You” and “From the Hips,” where Kasher sings, “we're all just trying to play our roles/in a play that runs ad nauseam.” The latter is an excellent complement to album closer “What Have I Done?” – the move that seals that pitiful image of an artist recreating pain for audience appeasement that he's so perfected (“I spent the best years of my life waiting on the best years of my life/so what's there to write about?”).

But most interesting about this record is Kasher's constant comparison of himself to an animal, a caveman, any primitive creature at hand. It's a step up from his artist's woes, perhaps the “why” to his “what,” and it's written all over the record – most clearly on “Caveman,” a declaration of his independence from family life and the tradition of “upward mobility.” Whereas earlier songs may have shown frustration with an inability to adapt in love and life, this record in full is sort of a mark of acceptance, both of the inevitability of age and that unwillingness to adapt. Sure, a few of these tracks are musical filler, but there are some beauties, too, and it's a strangely peaceful listen as far as Cursive is concerned.

Cursive - From the Hips
Purchase Mama, I'm Swollen

No comments: