Saddle Creek | Cursive | Reviews


The Ugly Organ

Author: Robby
01/08/2004 | | | Album Review
The Ugly Organ is an appropriate title for the Nebraska-based Cursive's latest effort. The band has put together an album that is dissonant, cacophonous, and beautiful at the same time. On this album, the band uses a cello permanently as well as pianos, horns, and yes, organs to the original two guitars, bass, drums and singer Tim Kasher's dynamic voice. These additions have made the band's sound much "bigger" than it was on the comparably stripped-down "Domestica," but its tough to decide if this is a good thing.

Cursive does not hold back with the instrumentation. Songs like "Driftwood", "Art is Hard" and "Sierra" have oscillating levels of intensity, calm at one moment, but thunderous the next. While songs like "Staying Alive" and "Red Handed Slight of Hand", use polyphonic sounds under Kasher's whisper-to-scream vocals to create haunting, rhythmic and epic sounds.

At times, the band gets a little carried away with the larger range of instruments in their inventory making the music a little muddy. Don't get me wrong though, I'm all for the use of a wide range of instruments - in moderation.

Adding to the racket, Kasher's voice has a tone to it that might take you a while to grow to tolerate. It is similar to Cursive's label-mate Conor Oberst's (of Bright Eyes), only harsher and more vibrant.

Listening to The Ugly Organ is like sailing in the middle of a tempest that can't decide whether to spare or impale you on some jagged rocks, but will undoubtedly make you nauseous (a more jostled nausea, not vomit inducing one - if that's possible). Cursive has the hand of God here, if they can relax a little with their instruments and smooth things out, they can still maintain that very original sound they've developed, but sound much cleaner.

The Ugly Organ

The Ugly Organ

LP / CD / MP3