Saddle Creek | Cursive | Reviews


Happy Hollow

Author: Steve Forstneger
09/21/2006 | Illinois Entertainer | | Live Show Preview
It has been more than three years since Cursive's last album, The Ugly Organ an eternity for a band on the fringes of art rock.

The rare manly band with a heart that isn't saturated with tears, Cursive have always been the gruff, nose-picking older brother to Saddle Creek's somewhat adolescent stable. Domestica chronicled frontman Tim Kasher's divorce, but did so in a way the pain was channeled through torn calluses on his fret hand than melodramatic vocal overexposure. Ugly covered the resultant committophobia and cheap sex much the same way, drawing little sympathy for its unscrupulous escapades by tearing off the scabs and exposing the scars.

Late summer/early fall's Happy Hollow finds a grown Cursive still shaking the skeleton trying to find out what makes them/us/you so difficult. "There was this big bang once/we're left here to fill in the blanks," Kasher laments on "Big Bang" as a horn, rhythm, and guitar sections stammer around him. Of course the link for "Bad Sects" (see below) won't prove any of this to you nor would "Into The Fold," but even straightforwardish power pop numbers like "At Conception" sit, wagging their legs, on the brink of implosion. The major difference between *Happy Hollow and the majority of Cursive albums is the persistent collision of pop material with the chaos. Organ, at least, had its moments where the two were mutually exclusive. On Hollow, the tactical battle is fought every track.

Probably their closest cousin, sonically, on the label, Ladyfinger (NE) aren't much for nuance or tonality as they are on explosiveness for Heavy Hands, due September 26th. "Cause Of Shame" shrieks into view as Smoking Popes' disillusioned elder sibling. Like most young punks, little regard is given to variety ("Don't Lose Your Shadow" is one name for a couple of the same songs) where ferocity is given top billing. Not quite as articulate as predecessors At The Drive-In, if Ladyfinger's ideas catch up with the rocket in their ass, watch the fuck out.

The Thermals split the bill.
Happy Hollow

Happy Hollow

LP / CD / MP3