Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Cursive's Delightfully Misanthropic New Album

By Evan Rytlewski
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Cursive has laid out a novel pricing plan for its latest album, Mama, I'm Swollen. On Sunday, the band began selling 320 Kbps mp3s of the album for $1, raising the price a buck each day until it tops off at $9 on the album's release date. It's a clever incentive to get people to buy the album sooner than later, and maybe create a little buzz around the record. Here's hoping it works; this one deserves whatever exposure it can get. Any record that incites this kind of vitriol from Spin magazine deserves a listen.

Tim Kasher wrote Mama coming from a cold streak: His last Cursive album, Happy Hollow, was unusually heavy handed in its anti-religious rhetoric, and his last Good Life record, Help Wanted Nights, was slight. Mama, though, is more of a thematic sequel to 2004's The Ugly Organ, another incendiary exploration of human sexuality that with its new-found interest in female anatomy could have just as easily been titled The Sinister Beaver.

Stained with menstrual blood and afterbirth, the record confronts a precious indie-rock scene where adults dress and act like children. "The world was built on a tickle between our legs," Kasher seethes, taking a mean-spirited joy in demolishing the wall of innocence that more romantic songwriters have constructed.

The lyrics are more aggressive than the actual music. Gone is the slash-and-burn of Ugly Organ-era Cursive, replaced by something more akin to the strum-and-build approach of Good Life, where the songs that explode have to work for it. In its finest moments, though, Kasher still screams himself hoarse, and this time he cuts the agony with genuine soulor at least blue-eyed soul. The guy sings his spiteful little heart out.

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