Saddle Creek | Cursive | Reviews


The Ugly Organ

Author: Heather Wilkinson
09/30/2004 | | | Album Review
Tracks on Repeat Play
Art is Hard
The Recluse
The Ugly Organist

Signature Sound
Late '90s alternative rock music with the vocal soundings of '80s new wave

Sample Lyrics
and now, we proudly present / songs, perverse and songs of confession / and songs that recognize our sick obsessions

Final Verdict
I admit it. When I heard the organ and the first few lines of The Ugly Organ, I was tickled pink. I'd been reading online reviews to get myself in the right mindset, I dusted off the sound system, and put it in. I was pumped. Sadly, by the third song, I was checking my clock, one of my roommates looked none too pleased at what I was subjecting her to this time, and the other roommate was repeatedly proclaiming "This song never ends!" I had read that this group was akin to TOOL; instead, I was listening to Lit meets Tears for Fears. Kinda depressing really.

The decision that resulted from this was that I wasn't giving them a fair shake, so I tried later. If rebooting your computer solves most problems, rebooting your brain solves the others. This time I read the lyrics and that, as they say, made all the difference. Of course, listening again didn't fix all of the problems, but it did bring about a turn of heart. What it made me realize is that Cursive is just one of those groups you want to like.

The lyrics are a fabulous mix of social commentary, as heard in "Art is Hard" when they sing "Cut it out / your self-inflicted pain / is getting too routine / the crowds are catching on / to the self inflicted song," egocentric pain ("I'm writing songs to entertain / but these people . . . they just want pain / They want to hear my deepest sins / the songs from the ugly organ"), and raw emotion—all written in the CD jacket like the script of a tragedy.

Unfortunately the less than perfect recording production and generally predictable musical sound hold the lyrics back immensely. However, in the midst of the mundane alternative rock, a glimmer of genius is heard in the combinations of organs, cellos, and choral backup, and at times the connection between the rhythmic style and lyrical intent are nearly insightful.

What it all came down to for me was: this is no TOOL, but if you love language and you can ignore some fairly major flaws, Cursive has significant potential to be an amazing band.
The Ugly Organ

The Ugly Organ

LP / CD / MP3