Reviews

Mama, I'm Swollen

Author: Kim Bui
03/09/2010 | Pace Press | www.pacepress.org | Live Show Preview
After a three-year hiatus since their last album, Happy Hollow, indie rock band Cursive is back with their latest release Mama, I'm Swollen.

Upon first hearing a Cursive song, you'd be surprised to hear that they have been around since 1995 with the sound and lyrics they choose to convey in their work.

Tim Kasher's lyrics are blunt and straight to the point on some songs, while other tracks embrace his thought process and leave it to the listener to decipher his words.

Kasher alternates between screaming vocals to faint whispers and juggles between pleading for sympathy or empathy.

"In The Now," the first track on the album builds the listener up with anticipation and comes at them with full force. Lyrically, it is repetitive with "Don't want to live in the now/ Don't want to know what I know…We're wearing out our heels/ On the road to hell," but for a first track it gives a sample of what else to expect and leaves you wanting more.

Soft drums begin "From The Hips," as Kasher gives it away with the first line, "I'm at my best when I'm at my worst."

The song then picks up in tempo when Kasher grows from soft singing to screaming the lyrics, as if the message was building up in him and waiting to come out and be broken down.

The band alternates between slow and fast tempos, complimenting each instrument in a round robin kind of way, with each playing out at certain parts.

With lyrics like, "And I wish that we had never talked/ Our hips said it all," and "I hate this damn enlightenment/ We were better off as animals/ right?" Kasher writes what many out there may be thinking.

Sounds similar to the winding of an old toy start as Kasher's voice trickles in like a whisper. Harmonious "Whoa's" carry the track "Donkey," as he kind of throws it to the audience "We may be donkeys but at least we have a tale to tell."

Track "Caveman," is more upbeat and has more of a full band sound than previous tracks. Kasher sings of wanting to get away from basically everything, like "I want down from this family tree…Want to burn my bridges down" and wants to live simply: "I'm no high society man/ No suit and tie/ No dapper Dan/ I'm no happy family man/ I'm no husband/ Ain't no dad/ I'm a goddamn caveman."

The album continues with "Mama, I'm Satan." Satan indeed. Distinct guitar and steady drums floods in as commands and accusations begin. "You're going to do what I say/ And say what I say / You stretch your peacock feathers/ You're always on display." Again, Kashers voice comes in as a rasp whisper.

The track carries dark tones with lyrics like, "All in all we're pawns/ The darkness of mankind stirs in us all."

Fast guitar riffs progress as volume picks up and Kasher shouts "I cast you out/ I cast you out," and repeats this point a few more times. Chaotic notes begin to blend together and ultimately cut off at a high point.

Its counterpart track, "Mama, I'm Swollen," does not stray far with a slower tempo and whispers but builds up with harmonies, having deep vocals accompany Kasher's. Like screaming at the top of his lungs, Kasher sings "Got no faith/ I got no hope/ I'm the joke of all existence/ I am no one." Pounding drums and cymbals carry the rest of the song as guitar riffs build and end the song on a strong note.

Ending song "What Have I Done" is the longest track on the album with a time of six minutes and 11 seconds. Slower and softer, Kasher exclaims "I spent the best years of my life / Waiting on the best years of my life/ So what's there to write about?"

The song makes up for its lengthy listen with lyrics that honestly anyone and everyone can relate to.

With lyrics like "A boy waiting to begin/ A man with no memoirs," and "You're young and you're going to be someone/ Then you're old and you're ashamed of what you've become/ Well, take a look around you/ You're preaching to the choir," it is easy to see why asking "What Have I Done" is appropriate and an appropriate title for the track.

Mama, I'm Swollen highlights Kasher's unique voice and the band's chemistry with one another as the songs exemplify their abilities to balance out each other.

Although the album has been out for a while, its sound and content are still refreshing with today's music and they have separated Cursive from other bands.
Mama, I'm Swollen

Mama, I'm Swollen

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