Burst and Bloom
After breaking up and then reforming without Stephen Pederson (but Ted Stevens taking his place), Cursive frontman Tim Kasher wanted to take the band in a different direction. Yet their post reunion album, Cursive's Domestica, was a natural extension of the Cursive sound even as they tried something new by establishing a set of characters and almost play-like situations. Burst and Bloom isn't the vastly different release I was expecting, although it's clear that Cursive's songwriting abilities are developing in leaps and bounds. The real difference here is the inclusion of a new full-time member, Gretta Cohn, on cello. While her cello can be heard adding a kind of dark mood to the background of all the tracks, it doesn't feel vital until the last song, when it completely makes the piece.
The opening song, "Sink to the Beat," is the one you're going to be hearing a lot of or reading a lot about. This, the best track on this EP, is a kind of self-analytical look into songwriting and being a "famous" indie band. Comparing themselves to the DC sound and name-dropping Shudder to Think and Fugazi, they take an ironic look at the scene while pummeling out a high-energy burst of rock, one of their most powerful songs yet still possessing moments of quiet urgency and mood. The lyrics, "some melodies are like disease they can inflame your misery / they will infect your memory they haunt me," and the finishing, repeated "hit song / let it burst and bloom" along with a kind of powerful, jerky style make this one of the most intriguing songs they've released in years.
"The Great Decay" shows how important Stevens has become to the sound, as he and Kasher trade off vocals in a Braid-like style, and the song flows from quiet and subtle to intense and screaming. One of my favorites here, "Tall Tales, Telltales" features a kind of angry mood, similar to that on the latest Engine Down album, and some oddly plucked guitar, distorted just right for an eerie effect. The chorus is one of the most beautiful and starkly emotional moments on this release, as Kasher's vocals shine. The heaviest and most uniquely Cursive song here is probably "Mothership, Mothership, Do You Read Me?" a kind of intense, chaotic blast of sound and burst of noise. The closer, the starkly beautiful "Fairytales Tell Tales," has moments of quiet urgency and moments of intense energy, two very different sounds that Cursive has always been able to mix effortlessly. The quiet moments, when you just have cello and Kasher singing, "'Please, don't be a stranger to me. Who are you if you're alone?'" are quite lovely.
I doubt Cursive are capable of releasing a poor or even disappointing album. Yet there's something about this five-song EP that doesn't quite compare to Domestica. Perhaps it's just the length, as it feels over too soon and incomplete. I'm still hopeful that it's just another step in Cursive's development into something new and groundbreaking. Well, they've certainly broken enough ground already, but as Kasher hopes to take it in a new direction, this seems to be the perfect transition. So while these five powerful songs are good enough to stand on their own, I think the real brilliance will be the songs and their relation to the band's next work.
LP / CD / MP3
LP / CD / MP3
LP / Deluxe LP / CD / MP3
LP / MP3