Saddle Creek | Cursive | Reviews


The Ugly Organ

Author: Brian Fogarty
03/01/2003 | | | Album Review
Here comes the latest and the greatest from Midwestern indie-rock legends Cursive. The Ugly Organ introduces Cursive as the next big thing; the thing that will split your pants in two.

As many know, Cursive has been putting out the records for what seems like an eternity on Saddle Creek and Crank Records. Formed in 1995, this is Cursive fourth full-length (inbetween scores of EPs and 7‰s). Yet, Cursive has barely made it this far. In the late 90s, Cursive disbanded to allow their members to pursue other areas of interest. Guitarist Steve Pedersen went to Chapel Hill for school and formed the amazing and now-defunct White Octave. Lead singer Tim Kasher headed to Oregon for awhile and then went back to Omaha. Back in Omaha he reformed Cursive with some local help. Since the reformation, Cursive has become a juggernaut in the indie-rock world. This includes the release of Domestica in 1998 and Bust and Bloom EP in 2001. The most glorious aspect of the „new‰ Cursive is the excellent addition and subsequent exploitation of cellist Gretta Cohn. This inclusion adds immeasurable to Cursive‚s already amazing songwriting abilities.

Far and away, The Ugly Organ comes across as the most mature and thoughtful Cursive release to date. While the title does provide some references to sexual organs and the like, at the end of the day who really cares that much. Not withstanding, Kasher‚s lyrics are thick, metaphorical and oh just so right. As noted above, the songs on The Ugly Organ are uniquely characterized by Cohn‚s thundering cello lines and rhythms. As if ripping out the guts of an album, Cohn does not joke around with pretty string chords, but goes after the music as if possessed by the essence of Slayer. As the intro „The Ugly Organ‰ leads into the first song „Some Red Handed Slight of Hand,‰ Cohn comes rumbling in with fast-witted cello lines sweetly complementing the guitar riffs. This is followed up by the previously released CD single of „Art Is Hard;‰ an argument that is so true. „Recluse‰ swirls on lethargy mixed with melancholy and the promise of a different life and world. „Recluse‰ is a sneaky great song; meaning, it takes a bit of a listen to get down on it and it doesn‚t kick you in the nuts immediately. Yet, the song that does give you that kick is „Driftwood: A Fairy Tale.‰ This is a short story about Mr. Pinocchio‚s modified life. „Driftwood‰ has a creepy multi-singing approach to the verse mixed with timely and addictive bass, organ and cello lines. „Driftwood‰ is followed by one of the other best songs on The Ugly Organ, „A Gentleman Caller.‰ „Gentleman‰ is reminiscent of some of the best songs from early Cursive material, for instance stuff off of Such Blinding Stars For Starving Eyes. Wildly drunkenly dissonant vocals and rhythms throughout crescendos to a heavenly quite section before building slowly to the hum of „the worst is over.‰ „Bloody Murderer‰ returns the listener to ultra-heavy distorted guitars and cello, while including eccentric arrangements. „Sierra‰ immediately comes off as an odd lyrical start, before moving into the catchy and unforgettable chorus that brings you back over and over again. The Ugly Organ finishes on a spacey and melodious fashion with the ten minute „Staying Alive.‰ Taken from the pages of indie a Pink Floyd, „Staying Alive‰ lifts itself above the rest of the record and provides its own destination.

The whole of The Ugly Organ comes across as something that you read, hear, or listen to that just makes sense; it seems perfect for its space and time. The record can bring to the listener energetic moments just as quickly as lulling you to a restful nap. The Ugly Organ promises to propel Cursive to the forefront of the musical world, not just the indie world. Though it may not necessarily meet with commercial success, The Ugly Organ will be talked about as one of the greats for years to come.
The Ugly Organ

The Ugly Organ

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