Saddle Creek | Cursive | Reviews


Mama, I'm Swollen

Author: Alyssa Mitchell
04/22/2009 | Inside UAB | | Album Review
The phrase "quality with mass appeal" rarely applies to music. Usually it is one or the other but not both, however Cursive defies the odds.

Melding Nirvana and Black Flag with The Who and The White Stripes without sounding like a big mess is no easy task, but Cursive makes it work.

Students liking even just one of these bands will appreciate "Mama, I'm Swollen."

"Caveman" is the best track on the album. The beat alone is infectious. The lyrics are catchy statements about people who want to shrug off society and return to the kind of lifestyle of Neanderthals.

Despite the catchiness Cursive remains true to its roots as an indie band.

None of the songs are overly polished tracks that can be notoriously found on mainstream albums.

While it is highly doubtful Miley Cyrus fans will pick up this disc, and from the content of many of the songs this is probably a good thing, remaining fans of "stinking" Radiohead should add "Mama, I'm Swollen" to their collection immediately.

Run, do not walk.

Drawing from the same ground as "Dorothy at Forty," "Donkeys" is a satirical, albeit amusing tale of a man swept into the "Pinnochio" story into an adult version of a Pleasure Island.

Although not as quickly paced as "Dorothy" both songs share a common theme, a character torn between two lifestyles, and hook the listener in the first few measures.

"What Have I Done?" and "We're Going to Hell" are more mellow approaches to social change than other songs on "Mama, I'm Swollen."

The techniques for these two songs are similar even though each puts the listener in a different mind set.

"We're Going to Hell" can produce a lot of self-reflection Cursive is known for doing.

"What Have I Done?" on the other hand displays some of the snarky but insightful commentary about the hypocrisy of life in America.

Regardless both songs are well crafted and show the marks of a band that knows how to play off each other's strengths.

"From the Hips" runs in the veins of "The Recluse" from the 2003 release "The Ugly Organ."

The message is clear: live life from the gut, regardless of what other people think about it.

In complete contrast is "In the Now" opens the band's first album since the 2006 "Happy Hollow." The song is a set of jarring elements competing against each other.

Despite the annoyingly repetitive lyrics, Cursive forces the listener to take a hard look at the state of current society over the top of searing guitar work.

Overall, the album is divided into two distinct parts. The first four tracks are reminiscent of "The Great Decay," from 2001's "Burst in Bloom."

It this side of Cursive that draws inspiration from the mid-80's hard core scene, but at the same time takes a que from the Seattle grunge sound.

The remaining six tracks borrow heavily from influences such as Jack White.

Much of the second half is full of mellow songs great for unwinding from a hectic day. At the very least the sarcasm will make even the most stressed student laugh or join in the commiseration.

"Mama, I'm Swollen" rates as a B+, for creativity, craft and reinventing themselves.

An interview with Matt from Cursive can be found at and they will be playing Monday, April 27 at Bottletree.
Mama, I'm Swollen

Mama, I'm Swollen

LP / CD / MP3