Saddle Creek | Cursive | Reviews


The Difference Between Houses and Homes

Author: Graham
08/30/2005 | | | Album Review
The release of Cursive's The Difference Between Houses and Homes: Lost Songs and Lose Ends reminded me what it was like to be excited for an album to come out. I was giddy like a kid waiting for Christmas; eagerly counting down how many more sleeps it would be until I was able to get my small, greasy, hands on my proverbial present. After many drawn out days of anticipation, the day finally came and I rushed to my local record store demanding that I be given my copy post haste…but they didn't have it. A small part of me died inside, and I returned home. The next day I went to another record store that did happen to have the album. As soon as it was out of its case the disc was in my CD player. I turned my speakers as loud as they would go and listened for what I was sure to be the best music I had ever heard. What I got was the musical equivalent of being told Santa Clause doesn't exist; it's not the worst thing to ever happen but leaves you fairly disappointed.

The Difference Between Houses and Homes is a collection of rarities, b-sides, and previously unreleased tracks. By no means is it a bad album. I can say with conviction that it is better than what most post-hardcore/indie bands have produced over their careers. But this is Cursive. The standards they've set for themselves over 10 years of being a band, four full-length albums, as well as numerous seven inches, splits, and singles, are extremely high. Saddle Creek Records promoted the album as giving us a gamut of Cursive's music from 1995 till present. Instead it comes across as a collection of songs that weren't good enough to make it on to any of their actual LP's.

Those of you thinking "Of course the album isn't going to be as good as their others, it's a collection of b-sides!" are right. Yes, this is a collection of b-sides, but it does have its high points. The tracks "Ice Breaker" and "...And the Bit Just Chokes" foreshadow the depth and despair in some of the band's later work. Alternately, the songs "Dispenser" and "Sucker and Dry" get your head bobbing like one of those tacky novelty dogs that sit on a car dashboard. Unfortunately; this novelty wears off after a few listens and we're left with the remainder of the album, which really isn't worth more then a passing listen.

The raw guitar sounds, signature howls, and poetic lyrics that make Cursive, arguably, the best band on Saddle Creek are all here. The problem is that none of the elements are cultivated. The guitar sounds are too raw. The voices crack during the howls. The lyrics come across as immature. The album hints at the talent and ability that was to be shown on their full-lengths, but never quite reaches that level.

Ironically enough the most enjoyable part of the album came in the liner notes. The short story written by vocalist Tim Kasher proved that if Cursive ever break up - well, break up again - and if he no longer was compelled to play with The Good Life, then he could always have successful career in children's literature.