Reviews

Help Wanted Nights

Author: Jocelyn Hoppa
09/12/2007 | Crawdaddy.com | www.crawdaddy.com | Album Review
The second track titled "A Little Bit More" from the Good Life's latest release, Help Wanted Nights, Tim Kasher (of the band Cursive) screams out, "you fooled me into thinking I was special, but you're a liar and a whore! It makes me want you just a little bit more," and he's not even talking to his girlfriend… that is, unless the person inside the closed bar is, in fact, his girlfriend, and perhaps that's an easy mistake to make after many drinks have been poured by the lady who just listened to your problems all night long—the cliché fantasy of a down-and-out, booze-addled mind. This is how I imagine any given drunk in a Charles Bukowski novel to work out in song. And, well, that's good by my own standards.

This is the Good Life's fourth record, and it was originally written to be the soundtrack for Kasher's screenplay that centers on characters that frequent a small town's local haunt. Less of a narrative than past Good Life records, Help Wanted Nights' songs jump around from character to character, handing out stories that all contain the kind of desperation, loneliness, disaffection, dissatisfaction, and sadness that plagues any beer-drunk soul. All of the songs on this record are given to us by way of acoustic guitars, some keys, a washed-out backbeat, and Kasher's voice that carries each melody sweetly, yet it also becomes just biting and frail enough on the most poignant lyrics to punch clean through the heart, or gut, when they call for it.

In the world of Help Wanted Nights, everything is fueled by booze, and this alone serves up some of the best lines on the record. In the defeat-anthem "On a Picket Fence", Kasher sings, "Pour me a drink and don't pour it too weak and grab it from the top shelf." In the dysfunctional relationship song "You Don't Feel Like Home to Me", he sings, "She sees his face in the sweat-stained sheets and the dirty cups that keep on piling up." In the fallen angel song "Keely Aimee", there's the line "Keely, I love your suffering like gravity loves a stumbling drunk." In the cheaters song "Playing Dumb", there's a brilliant lyric with "matchbooks from other side of town." In the random hookup song "Some Tragedy", Kasher sings, "So we went to your apartment, we shared a drink out in the garden / you thought I must pull this shit with any willing fool / I shrugged and asked if that's a problem." In the 10-minute epic closer "Rest Your Head", there's the line, "You lurk in the darkest corners awaiting some heavenly ascension / you know you won't find it in liquor or that stuff your friend does / But c'mon, we've all had our stumbles, and some nights it almost feels like love," and then, "I pick up a six pack at last call, we'll stay up drinking in bed / You can tell me what you're really after, then baby just rest your head."

Anyone who has ever been steamrolled by life and subsequently spent time inside a bottle looking for answers, a distraction, or solace in being around others like yourself can identify with Kasher's barstool tales. And while Help Wanted Nights doesn't push any crazy musical boundaries, it doesn't need to. The imagery found within is entirely enough to enjoy, and the simplicity and beauty with which the songs are delivered makes this album a solid effort, one of their strongest to date. The only thing missing from this record is bare-knuckle fighting, but this isn't the greasy underbelly of a Bukowski novel after all. And, really, it needn't be. It's only honest for a Good Life record to hone in on the thinning thread of emotional sincerity that still runs inside of the drunks in their story. Then again, the whole record/screenplay could've been based alone on one standout Bukowski quote: "If you're losing your soul and you know it, then you've still got a soul left to lose."
Help Wanted Nights

Help Wanted Nights

LP / CD / MP3




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Help Wanted Nights

Help Wanted Nights

LP / CD / MP3


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