Saddle Creek | Cursive | Reviews


The Ugly Organ

Author: Dave C
03/17/2003 | | | Album Review
Cursive is a well known indie band from Omaha. They have been playing for the last 8 years, and have gained a lot of recognition for their unique style that seems to evolve from album to album. Over the years they have not changed their style, but rather built it up as their musical influences broaden and as they continuously experiment with new concepts and instruments. "The Ugly Organ" is the pinnacle of this evolution. I have been a devout fan of Cursive for quite a few years now, and in my opinion, this is their best album to date. I thought they had perfected their sound when Domestica came out, but on this album they take it to entirely new levels.

On previous albums, the occasional song would have different instruments accompanying the band like cello or keyboard synthesizers, but on "The Ugly Organ", there is incredible musical variety in every song. It is tough to get classical instruments to fit in with an indie rock song because of its off-tempo beat and the fact that barely any bands have experimented with this coalition to any meaningful extent. Cursive played around with a cello for certain songs on the EP "Burst And Bloom", and it sounded good but I found it wasn't loud enough in the recording to compete with the electric instruments, and it was misplaced at parts, as though it was just added on after the song was written rather than having parts that revolve around the music it makes. This album has improved drastrically in those respects. The cello, violin, organ, trumpet, trombone and electric guitar have all learned to coexist in perfect harmony. The first real song on the album, "Some Red Handed Slight Of Hand" definitely proves this. It is a fast tempo song which you think would make it hard to add classical instruments to, but it incorporates organ, cello and violin in very unconventional ways to make them add to the intensity and madness of the music. In the middle of the song there is what I can only describe as a violin breakdown where only the drum beat remains and the violin goes crazy, playing faster than I have ever heard before. The lyrics on this album are also very well written. My favourite song on the album is "The Recluse". It is about people's inherent fear of being abandoned, which leads to the desperate need to hold on to people despite the unhealthy, often painful personal consequences. The lyrics of two songs, "Art is Hard" and "Butcher the Song", show Tim Kasher's jaded view of the music scene. At this point in his career, Kasher is very justified in mocking the critics who have mocked his music all along, because it is so easy to put a band down for being different, but now that they have perfected their style, even the most cynical critic can't overlook its brilliance. Of course, Cursive's true fans have seen it all along, but this culmination makes it plain for everyone to see. Pick this album up at your local independant record store and prepare to be amazed.
The Ugly Organ

The Ugly Organ

LP / CD / MP3