Reviews

Lovers Need Layers

Author: Brian Howe
07/12/2004 | Thecrutch.net | www.thecrutch.net | Album Review
"Side project" usually entails something an artist cobbles together in their spare time, like an architect who builds birdhouses to unwind. Often, side projects are just solo-y versions of the artist's...um, front project? Or a catchall for songs that are too inchoate, too stylistically aberrant, or just too weird for the main band. But sometimes, side projects become something more than a haunted demo burial ground. The Postal Service seemed in danger of eclipsing Death Cab for Cutie, and rightly so: it was a hell of lot more fun than the mopey indie-prog of Death Cab's Transatlanticism.

The latest Good Life EP from Cursive front man Tim Kasher begs the question: when does a side project cross the line and become its own entity? The first Good Life LP, Novena on a Nocturn, was a birdhouse indeed, a shimmering net that trapped up bits of song that must have shaken loose during the songwriting process for Cursive. It was a record of gauzy ephemera that smelled of the bedroom; well met with Kasher's rich, plaintive vocals and minimal electronic textures that were absent from Cursive, it nevertheless felt like a side project incomplete and fleeting. The second LP, Black Out, profited from a more rounded out band and more complete songs that felt like they were written specifically for The Good Life, not just fleshed-out fallout from Cursive songwriting.. The electronic embellishments were refined into more focused, sometimes danceable lines, and Cursive's grandiose guitar sound reared its head. It was still a birdhouse, but one inflated to a human scale. With theLovers Need Lawyers EP, which is a preview for the third Good Life LP (due out in August), it seems the transition is complete: The Good Life is a band in its own right, no longer a miniaturized extension of Cursive, but a mansion of song.

First off, let me say that self-fulfilling prophecy is a bitch, and as long as Kasher continues to write songs about the impossibility of romance coming to fruition, he's almost guaranteed to generate new heartache to write about. It's not a new concept, but its one that Kasher leavens with enough anger, longing, wit and weary disdain to allow his own personality to shine through an old and timeworn template as he engages with his constant themes: failed romances and the futility of art. "Leaving Omaha" is a woozy rock song with the barest tinge of country twang that builds to an explosive climax. "Entertainer" opens with a typical Kasher sentiment: "I'm not an artist, I'm an asshole without a job," continuing the self-flagellation Kasher's been taken up with since Cursive's Burst and Bloom EP. And highlight "Friction!" is by far the heaviest song The Good Life has produced, a startling blast of punk rock amid all the pseudo-stadium rock anthems. Gone for the most part are the twinkling little beep-tracks, replaced by full-on guitar rock with verses, choruses and strategic keys, and gone is the side-project feel when I review the next Good Life album, I may not have to mention Cursive at all.
Lovers Need Layers

Lovers Need Layers

CD / 10" / MP3




Releases

All »

Help Wanted Nights

Help Wanted Nights

LP / CD / MP3


Album of the Year

Album of the Year

LP / CD / Deluxe CD / MP3


Merch

All »

Summer 2010

apparel


Logo Shirt

apparel