Saddle Creek | The Good Life | Reviews


Help Wanted Nights

Author: Caitlin Caven
10/14/2007 | Soundcheck | | Album Review
The Good Life was formed by front man Tim Kasher as an outlet for songs that didn't fit his band Cursive's aesthetic. This is important to note, because there is a night-and-day difference in the two bands; if you go into Help Wanted Nights expecting anything Cursive-like, you will be disappointed. However, this comparison is not meant to demean The Good Life's many accomplishments: on this, their second album, they demonstrate that they have a well-developed style of their own. The album is full of relatively straightforward, meandering songs; it's pleasant and seemingly upbeat. If you focus, though, you can tune in to the pain and anger that seethe just below the surface. The inevitable darkness in these songs is relegated to the undertow; it's not immediately obvious. The melodies are accessible, and Kasher's voice gives away little. His tone generally conveys "let me tell you about the errands I ran today," while his lyrics say, "you're a liar and a whore."

Superficially, Help Wanted Nights is light, rockish folk. Occasionally, an out-of-tune piano or guitar is thrown in to throw a song slightly off-kilter. The album's biggest strength is the juxtaposition of venomous sentiments delivered evenly, over popish, catchy backgrounds. The song "Heartbroke" is a bitter, sarcastic jab at an ex, but has the vaguely sunny detachment of a love song. "Keely Amiee" is an up-tempo song simultaneously about adoring somebody and being disappointed with your life; it's more or less a motivational talk, but it includes lines like "I love your suffering/ like gravity loves a stumbling drunk." (Um, swoon.) "Your Share of Men" is grandiose and buzzy, and the end of "Best Night" spirals into operatic excess for a few glorious seconds before the song ends. Hints of intensity and drama occasionally surface in this album, but overall, it keeps its suffering tightly under wraps. There's an intentional disconnect between the sound and the point, and that creates an interesting pull on a listener.

Help Wanted Nights is a tight, enjoyable album. It doesn't go for the jugular, but it doesn't have to. Let Cursive stab you repeatedly in the stomach; that's not The Good Life's style. The Good Life prefers the passive-aggressive approach, and, in the end, it pays off in an album that is both catchy and heartbreaking.
Help Wanted Nights

Help Wanted Nights

LP / CD / MP3