Saddle Creek | Cursive | Reviews


Mama, I'm Swollen

Author: Joe Nickell
06/19/2009 | Missoula Entertainer | | Live Show Preview
Halfway through the opening track of the new album by Cursive, guitarist Ted Stevens cranks up the volume and launches into one of the most brazenly incorrect guitar solos in the history of recorded music. Notes fall splatter-shot here and there, out of tune and out of key, until singer Tim Kasher returns to the mic to yowl, "We're wearing out our heels on the road to hell."

"Happy Hollow" this is not.

"Looking back at 'Happy Hollow' (the band's 2006 album), I think we all felt that we over-thought it and over-polished it," said Stevens in a phone interview earlier this week. "For this album, we really wanted a more bare-bones, stripped-down approach, where the rawness of live performance came through."

That approach comes through in every track of "Mama, I'm Swollen," released in March on Saddle Creek Records (home of fellow Omaha indie icon Conor Oberst). Loose and impulsive, the band careens through 10 tracks of scruffy and occasionally misshapen guitar-rock, threaded through by Kasher's tortured voice.

"This just may be my greatest mistake," he yelps in "Donkeys," mixing confession with boast: "I'm going to Pleasure Island and I'm never coming back."

"Mama, I'm Swollen" isn't entirely pleasurable; more aptly, it might be called a loving ode to psychic pain, where anguish turns to detached reverie. In that sense, it's a return to form for Cursive, which first broke out in the college radio scene with 2003's similarly angsty concept album, "The Ugly Organ."

Cursive appears at the Palace in Missoula on Sunday, June 21. The Mount St. Helens Viet Nam Band will perform an opening set.

Mama, I'm Swollen

Mama, I'm Swollen

LP / CD / MP3