Reviews

Happy Hollow

Author: Bob Gendron
09/26/2006 | Chicago Tribune | www.chicagotribune.com | Live Show Preview
Stepping up to the microphone with his mouth open, Cursive leader Tim Kasher yowled until his lungs were emptied before briefly halting and revving back up to a rapid, can-you-keep-up-with-me pace. Urgent rush and retreat patterns played throughout Cursive's hourlong performance Monday night at Metro, where Kasher's shattering releases inspired many in the crowd to shout along in melodramatic unison.

Bubbling under the surface for a decade, Cursive hails from the same Omaha hotbed that produced indie sensation Bright Eyes. Touring for the first time in two years, the quartet is on the verge of breaking out, courtesy of its recent "Happy Hollow," a concept album on which the group addresses religion's problematic relevance in modern society through the perspectives of a fictional town's residents.

Supported by a three-piece horn section and a cellist, Cursive rode on jagged rollercoaster tracks of rhythm, churning out teeter-totter riffs that rose and fell with the flow of the songs' dialogues.

Kasher, who, with his tired eyes, wrinkled shirt and untrimmed facial hair, resembled an overburdened computer programmer on a smoke break, led the emotionally cathartic march, crooning of faded fantasies, bitter desperation and derelict relationships.

On "The Game of Who Needs Who the Worst," the frontman cried out high notes as if he'd just had scissors thrust into his back, simultaneously bawling from pain and lashing back at the offender. Kasher's hiccuped whispers, melodic screams and baritone sing-speak enunciations keyed the nervous arrangements, which occasionally tumbled with an overabundance of crammed-together fluctuations.

Cursive's latest material optimized the brassy grooves and exhale-inhale undertow provided by trumpet, saxophone and trombone.

"Dorothy Dreams of Tornadoes" pulsed with blues-in-reverse currents and soulful hooks, while "Bad Sects" teemed with chamber-pop tension and dignity-losing worry.

Given the new songs' superior intelligence, fun and adventurousness, it's a shame the band didn't play more of them.
Happy Hollow

Happy Hollow

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