Help Wanted Nights
Author: Rebecca Raber
The Good Life's fourth full-length may eschew the narrative structure of 2004's excellent (and well-named) Album Of The Year, but with its overall theme of life in small-town bar, Help Wanted Nights proves that recent L.A. transplant Tim Kasher has become quite the cinematic scribe. (It's not surprising to learn that he wrote the album to soundtrack a screenplay he was working on.) Those that came to the Good Life as fans of Kasher's other band, Cursive, will both be shocked by his transformation into a mellow troubadour and nonplussed by the emotional depth of these songs. Standouts like "Heartbroke," with its loping bassline and co-ed, call-and-response vocals, and "You Don't Feel Like Home To Me," with its train-mimicking rhythms and intimate acoustic guitars, prove what longtime Cursive fans have always known: Kasher is one hell of a pop songwriter. But now that his deep voice has matured and he's learned to undersing his aching melodies, listeners can fully concentrate on the resonance of his words. For example, when he sings, "I ain't asking for redemption and this ain't no cry for help," on the still-of-the-night album opener "On The Picket Fence," you are immediately drawn into his vividly detailed world of darkened dive bar corners, late night confessions and weary, wasted patrons. The moody lyrics are matched with dark, dusky Americana, and with the album's expansive storytelling and spare production, it owes quite a debt of service to the Boss' Nebraska. Fitting, since the Good Life got its name from the unofficial motto of Kasher's birthplace, which also happens to be the Cornhusker State.