Saddle Creek | Cursive | Reviews


Happy Hollow

Author: Brian McKinney
08/04/2006 | | | Album Review
The wait is almost over for the latest Cursive disc and it was worth every moment. Their last full-length, 2003's The Ugly Organ, had some of Cursive's best tracks to date on it, but some were a little disappointed with the fact that there were only a handful of songs that surpassed the 3 minute mark, while the rest was interludes and snippets. On Happy Hollow (Release date is Aug 22), we're blessed with 14 tracks of no-nonsense, guitar-driven indie rock complimented with horns in lieu of the recently AWOL cello of Greta Cohn. Cursive's core members of Tim Kasher (vocals, guitar), Ted Stevens (guitar, vocals), Matt Maginn (bass) and Clint Schnase (drums) return once again. Additionally, Nate Wolcott did the horn arrangements and of course Mike Mogis handled production. If you feel nervous about the horns, don't worry. When it's prevalent, it's more Stooges than Reel Big Fish. So, for those of you that were less than enthusiastic about The Ugly Organ, you can finally return to the fold.

Tim Kasher's trademark innuendo, hidden meanings and self-effacement still run rampant through every song on Happy Hollow. He's definitely not hiding his light under a bushel. Lyrical subject matter hits on the old standbys (drinking, sex, messy relationships) as well as some newer ones (religion, homosexuality, prostitution and quantum physics). According to a Pitchfork interview Kasher states, "I kind of broke it down into three very vague categories that the songs are being set under, which would be religions, sects, and small towns." The song "So-So Gigolo" sounds like vintage Cursive and falls into the small town category with lyrics like, "Small town Adonis hits the metropolis / brought down to his knees." The album's first single, "Dorothy At Forty" is the first track that exemplifies the new Cursive, horns and all. As the lyrics "dreams are all you have / dreams have held you back / dreamers never live / only dream of it" suggest, the song is about a girl named Dorothy, who only lives her life in her head. Probably the most controversial and emotional track on the album is "Bad Sects," which is an obvious play on words. The song is about two men of the cloth who consummate their forbidden love and "know this is wrong / cos I'm told this is wrong... we'll never live this down."

Happy Hollow is markedly a journey into new territory for Cursive and they still manage to retain their larger than life sound as they progress into their second decade as a band. While "emo"-philes might have forsaken Cursive after the game of who needs who the most ended, for the rest of us, Happy Hollow is anything but the sunks.
Happy Hollow

Happy Hollow

LP / CD / MP3