Cursive's Tim Kasher has what is perhaps the worst great voice in indie rock. His voice doesn't gracefully arc up to touch glorious high notes or frolic easily through melodic fields; it's grating, laborious, and a bit slurred. But a more earnest, volatile, emotionally charged voice cannot be found. The utter sincerity behind that which he writes, the perfect inflection and expression from the far-from-perfect vocal chords, the brains evident behind the guitar brawn: these things are what make Kasher's voice sound gorgeous.
I've come to the conclusion that the worst thing about Cursive's new record is that it's actually called Cursive's Domestica, which is painfully reminiscent of the maligned Mad Season by Matchbox Twenty. Excepting this small item, Cursive's Domestica is the bands most mature, cohesive work to date. The announcement of a new Cursive album should have come as quite a shock to the band's fans in light of the litany of reports detailing their breakup. If this were so, then the brilliant Storms of Early Summer: Semantics of Song would have been Cursive's A Series of Sneaks: a dazzling, albeit tragically ignored swan song.
Instead, scarcely a year and a half later, we have Cursive's Domestica, an album which continues the profound dialogue left off at the close of The Storms of Early Summer, but steers the band in an entirely new direction: concept album territory. No, don't hit the Back button! Cursive actually pull it off in style, faithfully cataloging their interpretation of the politics of love and the unraveling of a relationship.
Kasher, recent divorcee, claims that Domestica is not at all autobiographical. It's times like this that I wish that I knew how to scoff at something in multiple languages. Let's examine the evidence at our disposal: the album sleeve is brimming with pictures of a couple engaging in the throes of domestic life, each one depicting the woman conducting herself with complete sincerity as the male gazes despondently into the distance. The lyrics are fiery and bitter, or utterly jaded, making a mockery of the words we say and the lies we fabricate in relationships; things that one must experience firsthand in order to write about them so accurately. Let's never speak of this non-autobiographical tomfoolery again.
The Cursive sound has evolved alongside the sentiments of its frontman. Cursive have retained their razor edge, creating pulsing, rapidly evolving guitar-based music, yet they're now fueled and guided by the meaning behind the music. The cohesion of lyrics to musical intensity and songwriting is at its peak on Cursive's Domestica, as the expressiveness of the music is as volatile as any relationship, swooping down from furious to somber in a fraction of a second. The addition of new guitarist Ted Stevens has changed the candor of the rhythm section, making it more dissonant and varied in its attack. Crunching guitars and throbbing bass dominate the record, arranged shrewdly beneath Kasher's anguished screams and urgent whispers.
Cursive's Domestica is certainly one of the finest hard indie rock releases of the year thus far and has established an impressive staying capacity in my CD rotation. Kasher's intelligent, thought-provoking lyrics resonate perfectly inside the head of anyone who's ever seen love go sour. "The Martyr" is a standout anthem to those jilted with the finer sex and their perceived emotional volatility, with the ingenious refrain: "Sweet baby don't cry/ Your tears are only alibis." Songs like "A Red So Deep" rock hard while keeping emotions firmly attached to sleeve, asking bitterly, "Are you satisfied tonight?" At only nine tracks, Cursive's Domestica suffers from brevity, but not much more. If you're happily linked with a member of the opposite sex, stay away from this record. Otherwise, the world needs Cursive.
LP / CD / MP3
LP / CD / MP3
LP / Deluxe LP / CD / MP3
LP / MP3