Saddle Creek | Cursive | Reviews


Mama, I'm Swollen

Author: Andrew Bean
04/09/2009 | | | Album Review
Here we are again. It seems as though when listening to Cursive, you can't help but think of The Ugly Organ. Yes, we came upon this fact when Happy Hollow was released as they decided to change from a string section to a horn section to feed our appetite. With the release of Mamma, I'm Swollen, however, Cursive decided not to really change things up this time around. With Tim Kasher's want to change the face of rock, it may seem as a bit of a let down that there hasn't been a new element added to the Cursive potion. Mamma, I'm Swollen will seem mediocre at best after only one listen. After a few listens, though, it will grow on you because in the back of your head you still know what they're capable of doing, even if they don't always do it on this album.

Still, there is no doubt that this is a Cursive album, especially when it comes to Kasher's distinctive vocals and the band's knack for making their own brand of heavy indie-rock sound. It also helps that there is still a horn section to compliment the distorted crunch of the guitars. Most notable, however, are the bass lines laid down by Matt Maginn. They add a much darker aura to the album which is best represented in the album's opener "In the Now". Charging ahead, one of Kasher's best lines can be found in the opening track as well where he claims, "So history repeats / because the present won't repent." It shows that Kasher hasn't lost his ability to pen insightful lyrics that make us smile as we think, "You clever son-of-a-bitch."

There are solid songs on this album, such as "From the Hips", a song building to a momentous climax as Kasher sings about the joys and the criticism of sexual enjoyment. On the flip side, there is the obvious filler "I Couldn't Love You", which contains clichéd lyrics backed by boring and uninspired music. The want for Cursive to redeem themselves grows after such let downs. To make up for the lack of ingenuity, the confessional "What Have I Done?" finds Kasher asking himself where his life is going and what he's done with it so far. The passion found in this track is palpable, with the explosive climax of the song finding Kasher screaming, "What have I done?" It might just be one of the best Cursive songs penned.

On the other side, to balance things out, there is the predictable "Caveman", a song that is said on their website to apparently reference Pinocchio, which is barely noticeable. Still, haven't we already heard a song about him with "Driftwood: A Fairy Tale"?

It's true, believe it or not Cursive is fallible. They created another album full of enjoyable and inventive music, but with a few songs that may see you pressing skip. It is important, though, to look at what a band has done in the past in order to see if a band has evolved or not or if they're just using the same tired equation. For Cursive, this feels like the next step in their evolution, as there aren't many original acts like them left, but it's definitely a small step, potentially off to the side instead of forward.
Mama, I'm Swollen

Mama, I'm Swollen

LP / CD / MP3