Saddle Creek | Cursive | Reviews


Cursive's Domestica

Author: George Zaho
06/29/2000 | Splendid E-zine | | Album Review
Cursive's Domestica (yes, the band's name is part of the title) is something of an enigma -- it's a solid album, but repeated listening makes it increasingly difficult to like. If you're the sort of person who blithely ignores all but the most intelligible lyrics, and/or the sort of person who likes a nice bit of raw-throated, guitar-blaring punk rock, you'll like Cursive's Domestica immediately. You'll probably come to be dimly aware that, as its title suggests, the album deals with the love/hate interplay of relationships...but you won't really care very much, because the driving intensity of the music will keep you satisfied.

But the lyrics are there, in the CD booklet, waiting for you to read them. And before you do so, you should know that songwriter Tim Kasher -- never prone to the sunniest of lyrical concepts -- is a fairly recent divorcee. His take on the love/hate relationship dynamic is about 80% hate, tempered with loss, confusion, anger and loneliness, which makes listening to Cursive's Domestica the sonic equivalent of staring at an open wound for half an hour. Jarring melodies offset narratives that range from despair-inducing to downright creepy. They may not bug you, but I found them profoundly disturbing.

Kasher isn't a lyrical genius by any means; several songs -- "The Martyr" in particular -- are strewn with the clumsy rhymes and overwrought imagery of pubescent poetry. But knowing that he's writing from experience makes it impossible to shrug off lyrics like "One
February night / we screamed our agonies / And I swear, I tried to care / I tried, I tried / but the icicles hung down like prison bars / And I lost the will to fight." I actually felt my hackles rise while listening to those words, and felt an intense urge to call my wife and have her reassure me that everything was alright between us. Even a disturbing tune like "Pretty Baby," which seems to skirt molestation issues, was reassuringly normal by comparison.

Hence the dilemma. Solid musicianship aside, I can't say that I feel like hearing Cursive's Domestica again any time soon. And I can't say that I "enjoyed" it -- though it's musically solid, my sensitivity to the lyrics makes it a tough listen. But I can say without hesitation that few albums have elicited so strong an emotional response in me. This is an album that I'm going to wake up thinking about at 2:00 a.m. on stormy nights, and I doubt I'll get back to sleep afterwards.
Cursive's Domestica

Cursive's Domestica

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