Saddle Creek | Cursive | Reviews


Burst and Bloom

07/26/2001 | audiogalaxy | Album Review
Let it Burst

by Will Robinson Sheff

As a sop to lazy critics everywhere, Cursive has provided a readymade press release in the lyrics to the first track of their new Burst and Bloom E.P. Not to disappoint them, I excerpt it here: "This unique approach to start an EP [is] intended to shock, create a mystique. A cheap strategy, a marketing scheme building awareness for the next LP. They've got a good fan base, they've got integrity, they've got a DC sound: Shudder to Think, Fugazi, and Chapel Hill around the early 90's."

Well, that's that. Now I'm gonna go home and watch "Days of Our Lives."

Actually, before I go, I'd like to add a few things:
"Cursive systematically rejects easy ironies in favor of good old fashioned amplified emotion"

Some smarm trafficker insulated in 2,001 layers of irony, someone like Beck or Steven Malkmus, could get away with this shit, but not Cursive, who are one of indie rock's most achingly sincere bands. So, true to form, the glib cleverness of Burst and Bloom's opening words collapses into self-loathing rage at about the same time as the pretty glide of their intro falters and falls into a pit of screams. This is the Cursive we know and love, and they spend the rest of the song flagellating themselves for these oh-so-hip 21st century ironies: "my moldy dreams are debased by the same hands that shape themů. / I'm so reflexive I am a mirror." By the song's end, it's turned from a Dave Eggers-esque hall of clever mirrors into a field of broken glass, a dead-on portrait of the self-reflexive artist as a cipher lost in the media world that markets him, sucked to the bottom of an ocean of irrelevance, able to be freed only by the unmediated outburst of one pure emotion.

The rest of the EP is just as stunning; it bursts and blooms with Cursive's rare ability to reject easy ironies in favor of good old fashioned amplified emotion. As with all of Cursive's work, that emotion is expressed with such intense urgency that the songs often teeter between pathos and bathos, but when they land on the side of the former, which is usually, they're almost a magical cure for the disaffected, too-cool-to-care attitude that, these days, might just be killing us. The main sonic between Burst and Bloom and last year's Domestica is that this EP finds Cursive layering their emo attack with beautiful little gulfs of cello, their soothing sound serving as salve when these songs hurt too much. By conception, though, these songs should hurt a little, as they sound like they hurt to make. Like John Lennon's classic first Plastic Ono Band album, Burst and Bloom is a record that crashes headlong into pain, hoping to tunnel through into healing.
Burst and Bloom

Burst and Bloom

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