Saddle Creek | Cursive | Reviews


Burst and Bloom

07/24/2001 | | | Album Review
Maybe it was getting a little crowded under the microscope or maybe Cursive's Tim Kasher is just ready to move on. Either way, his band's Burst and Bloom EP doesn't snuggle up so closely to Kasher's personal failures as did last year's Domestica (Saddle Creek), which paralleled Kasher's doomed marriage and personal ups and downs. Don't think for a minute that Cursive's departure from the breathtakingly personal has rendered it any less compelling than the last time around, however.

Although the terms "personal" and "compelling" are frequently confused as synonyms in the indie-rock world, Cursive's detachment - as thorough as its gripping sentimentality was on its last effort - makes for post-hardcore that's every bit as compelling as the emotion-laden hyperbole that's standard in the genre. Whether Kasher takes a grim, existential view on the purposelessness of life ("The Great Decay") or gives voice to postnatal trauma and sudden isolation of infancy ("Mothership, Mothership, Do You Read Me?"), he's hit upon something bigger than just broken hearts: The world's a nasty place, and no matter if the usual focus of emo pontification - breakups and relationships - are on or off, we're still ultimately alone. It's a scary world, especially when Cursive shows the solace of love to be but a minor distraction from the futility of human existence.

Burst and Bloom isn't all existential angst, though its best moments sure are. "Fairy Tales Tell Tales" reverts to the tribulations of boy/girl miscommunications that, placed next to the unyielding hopelessness of other tracks, seems downright trivial. When the band attempts a self-conscious analysis of its position in the music world ("Sink to the Beat"), the band has neither the tongue-in-cheek eccentricity of The Dismemberment Plan nor the brassy swagger of Pop Will Eat Itself, shortcomings that make its posturing look downright silly.

On this EP Cursive expands its lineup to include cellist Gretta Cohn, though her strings are usually torn so far asunder the band's train-wreck guitars and battering-ram beats that it'll take a sharp ear to pick them out. Outside of Cohn's addition to the band, Cursive holds true to its established sound, with feuding guitars thick with frost melodies and brow-beating dynamics. There's no hint of wimpy emopop anywhere on this EP, as the band's vicious, yet curiously melodic, post-hardcore drives with a dust storm's dry power.

An outward-reaching yin to Domestica's suffocatingly personal yang, Burst and Bloom shows Kasher and company aren't going to rest on laurels or formula-driven post-hardcore. It's enough to make even the most jaded post-hardcore fan bristle with anticipation of the band's next full-length.
Burst and Bloom

Burst and Bloom

LP / CD / MP3