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Cursive's Domestica

Author: - Eric J Herboth
04/15/2000 | Lost at Sea | | Album Review
Two years in the wake of their head spinning Storms of Early Summer: Semantics of Song and their ensuing break up, Cursive are back wielding more of the same torturously brusque guitar and rhythm work that has become their trademark. Cursive's Domestica is both a sonic progression and a salient lyrical report on vocalist Tim Kasher's troubled personal life, the press sheet going so far as to announce his divorce.

The opening chords of "The Casualty" are idiosyncratically Cursive: a grinding resonating somewhere between Gang of Four and Slint, conterminously brutal and nimble. The addition of Lullaby For the Working Class' Ted Stevens on guitar and vocals blends
seamlessly with the athletic, almost bone-shattering dynamics anchored by drummer Clint Schnase and bassist Matt Maginn. Operating on absurd timing, Brechtian guitar work and temperamental low end maneuvers, as a unit Cursive display a mastery of group agility, skirting the boundaries of everything from metal to pop music with their tuning, melodies and song structures. Their delivery, both fierce and restrained, is unparalleled in its intensity.

As much as it pains me to find a weakness in this album, for all the frightful seduction of the music, Kasher's vocal and lyrical repertoire is glaringly lacking this time out. Whereas Storms seemed to showcase his comfort and subsequent blossoming in his gruff Eric Bachmann-style vocal niche, Kasher spends far too much time fruitlessly exploring the higher end of his voice which, more often than not, comes of terribly awkward as on the struggling "A Red So Deep." The lyrics themselves are disappointingly shallow, turning away from the poetic lines of Such Starving Eyes and the almost literary scene setting of Storms in favor of running around in circles like a dog tied to a stake. The line "the night has fallen down the staircase" appears in both the opening and closing tracks, and a reference to a thrown phone pops up repeatedly. The words take only a slight turn toward the evocative pseudo-prose of Such Starving Eyes in "Shallow Means, Deep Ends," otherwise painting the same picture of violent domestic unrest with an almost embarrassing frequency.

Easily the most anticipated return since (ugh, oh no) Sunny Day Real Estate, Cursive's Domestica raises the stakes a bit higher in Cursive's quest for excellence, at least on a musical level, easily registering as one of the year's best to date. After their hammering affront loses its abrasive edge and works its way into your heart I suggest picking up their two earlier records, both comparitavely musically underdeveloped but far more lyrically engaging. Taken together, the trio of full-lengths is a clear marker for one the most involved rock bands in memory.
Cursive's Domestica

Cursive's Domestica

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