Reviews

Mama, I'm Swollen

Author: Jack Diablo
03/05/2010 | EU Jacksonville | www.eujacksonville.com | Live Show Preview
Cursive is quite possibly one of my favorite bands of all time. Although I probably abuse that superlative, it's most often followed by "right now" versus "of all time." When you can picture yourself hearing a specific song for the first time years after that initial discovery, that's when you know the title is well-deserved. The moment I heard the opening dissonant note to 'The Martyr' on their Domestica album, I knew I had stumbled upon something I didn't even know I was looking for. And those are always the best finds.

Here we are, years later. Since then, Cursive has released three full-lengths, an EP and a compilation of early and unreleased tracks. Their latest album, Mama, I'm Swollen was released last year and I was fortunate enough to catch them on their headlining tour with Man Man in Orlando. This month they return to Florida and stop in Jacksonville along with Alkaline Trio.

Cursive hails from Omaha, Nebraska and have remained a part of the local record label they helped create along with such bands as Bright Eyes and the Faint. In a recent interview Cursive's frontman Tim Kasher helped shed some light on how Saddle Creek was able to become such a household name in the indie rock world despite its unlikely provenance. "As we were growing up together we supported each other a lot and that helped as far as everyone homing their songwriting," explains Kasher. "It's not like a lot of music scenes in different towns where there's competition that's pretty negative and people can't really feed off of it."

Kasher's lyrics lean towards self-deprecation, but are almost always presented in a tongue-in-cheek manner. On 'Art Is Hard' from 2003's The Ugly Organ, Kasher sings about recreating his personal failures and misery to appease his audience. But according to Tim, not every song is about something personal to him. When asked if we could assume his lyrics are auto-biographical, he responded, "Yeah, one could assume it. I won't necessarily admit to it though."

All of Cursive's full-length albums are centered around some unifying concept. Domestica took a somewhat unnerving look into the secrets of domestic and family life, exposing some of the darker moments while The Ugly Organ acts as a musical confessional of sorts with its "songs perverse and songs of lament." On 2006's Happy Hollow, the songs exposed the hypocrisy of religious dogma and small-town small-mindedness. With Mama, I'm Swollen, the lyrics seem to return to the self-reflective sort but with less of an emphasis on a single concrete theme. "We intentionally wanted to have a looser concept," says Tim. "We don't want to be labeled as a band that only does concept albums. I think that some people have still found this album to be highly conceptualized. And that's fine, the content is there if one wants to delve further into it." Determining the thread that ties the songs together proved a daunting task for me until I flipped through the album's lyrics and artwork. They reveal a sort of diary that tells of the protagonist's life journey as told through song.

When Kasher isn't recording and touring with Cursive he keeps busy with his side-projects such as the Good Life and is set to release a solo album under his own name some time this summer. Lately, the wordsmith has been trying his hand at writing screenplays with his main project on schedule to shoot this summer as well.
Mama, I'm Swollen

Mama, I'm Swollen

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