Monday, March 30, 2009

Cursive - Mama I'm Swollen

Oh, Cursive. There was a time that I was so infatuated with you. Remember when I flew out to Chicago just to see you with the Dismemberment Plan? It was when you were in that abusive relationship with Crank (and in Kasher's case with his liver and lungs) and you wanted to yell a lot over a driving backbeat and post-emo (think Rites of Spring, not the new-school of jerk-offs) guitar. Those were good times.

Where did the love go? Maybe we grew apart like me and the lady in Chicago. Still, Storms Of Early Summer / Semantics Of Sound remains one of my favorite midwestern records from that era, up there with Frame and Canvas. Even post-Domestica putting them on the average person's radar, I couldn't fault their success, but wished they would go back to that sound, even though it seemed like it had gone with Steven Pedersen's departure. 

Recent years have found Cursive pursuing a more expansive sound. Singer Tim Kasher has always pursued fiction writing. His combining of his literary and musical influences are finding Kasher becoming sort of the Nick Cave of the alternative set, pairing increasingly allusory lyrics with strings and brass experimentation. The flirtations with cellos and horn sections have expanded their fanbase extensively and exposed them to an audience well-beyond the DIY scene that spawned them. It's been a double-edged sword that got Cursive into some interesting situations, the tour with Mastodon and Against Me! being a pretty decent example. I really can't see that having gone well. I demurred on seeing the show, even though, in retrospect, watching Mastodon fans pulverizing Against Me! college politicos might have been a good time. Drummer Clint Schnase seemed to feel the same way, bailing after that very tour and being replaced by Engine Down's Cornbread Compton. 

This is the second record with the line-up. Kasher's moved to LA, which does not bode well, but Mama. I'm Swollen is by no means sunny. There are the usual dark ruminations on mortality and physicality, see: tracks like I Couldn't Love You and the lead-off single From The Hips. Mama, I'm Satan is no ray of sunshine either. If you like the last couple of Cursive records, you should be down for Mama I'm Swollen. The same asethetics are in place and the songs are all solid, although it does blur the increasingly indistinct lines between Cursive and sister band The Good Life. Mama I'm Swollen is not going to get a ton of play at the JS-NYC HQ, but it's a hell of a lot better than Animal Collective or Of Montreal (who will never darken my speakers). You make the call.

Get Mama, I'm Swollen from Saddle Creek in a myriad of forms here. They have a sliding scale deal going on that keeps thing on the cheap if you're balling on a budget. 

Cursive HQ is here. They are evidently touring with Man Man currently.  Look forward to JS-NYC missing that.


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