Reviews

The Game of Monogamy

Author: dryvetyme
11/04/2010 | Dryvetymeonlyne.com | www.dryvetymeonlyne.com | Album Review
If I were a guy with as storied a career as that of Tim Kasher, I'd want to take a break every now and then, take a vacation, or something. The guy leads two different bands Cursive and The Good Life the former of which released one of the more celebrated records of the '00s with Ugly Organ. Yet, after a 2009 packed to the gills with touring Mama, I'm Swollen (the most recent Cursive record), Kasher decided to visit in the wilds of Montana, not to relax, but to focus on cutting his debut solo album. What emerged from that time is The Game Of Monogamy, eleven songs dedicated to the story of a tortured family man who seemingly can't quite become into the man he knows he's supposed to be.

Sonically, things are split between bright pop tunes and low-key, introverted indie-folk numbers. The upbeat stuff calls to mind the orchestra of Lawrence Welk playing '60s Beatle-pop as conducted by Randy Newman the horn, string, and woodwind sections are resplendent in their arrangements, and the guitars zing with ska-ish verve. The slower material regularly drops the energy down from a rollicking 9 to a subdued 2, creating for a striking dichotomy in track flow, and it almost sucks the momentum out of things on certain occasions.

But it's the lyrical material that serves as the driving force of the album. If Nick Hornby were to write a follow up to High Fidelity that tells Rob Fleming's story about ten years after he finally settled down with Laura, it would probably sound reminiscent of what Kasher has penned here. The lead voice to my ears, a 30-something guy stuck in suburban life moans, whines, pleads, and cajoles with himself regarding his station in life. He bitches about the trappings of modern life and how they keep him locked into the pursuit of money and keeping up with the Jones'. He bathes in self-pity regarding his frustrated libido: he loves his wife, but finds their sex life boring, and although his eye wanders incessantly, he hates himself for it.

Though he faces the same situations as Don Draper in Mad Men, he faces it in entirely different ways, in that he's very honest, open, and upfront with his failings and desires. He bleats about his angst in ways that I understand, right down to the deep-set chagrin he feels when his imagination runs wild and the need confess to someone, anyone when he's done something (or even dreamt something) that he knows he shouldn't. That being said, he often sounds like a petulant child (of the Betty Draper variety) who wants to have his cake (or several of them) and be able to eat it too.

The themes that Kasher discusses throughout The Game Of Monogamy are familiar and relatable, because we've seen the modern "Peter Pan" man-child syndrome investigated through a variety of mediums in the past fifteen or so years. So, when the songs are wallowing in their own misery (as heard in "Strays," "No Fireworks," and "The Prodigal Husband"), the tunes sound stale and tired; but when the main character rushes about frantically, harried and panicked in his internal conflict, cuts like "I'm Afraid I'm Gonna Die Here," "Cold Love," and "Bad, Bad Dreams" have more tangible emotional weight to them. Overall, the record is supremely theatrical and cinematic in both scope and tone the energy is expertly balanced in its ebbs and flows but it feels more like a movie soundtrack than a stand-alone album. It could just be my opinion, but I'd like to see Kasher return to that mountain retreat in Montana to write a book and/or screenplay that this record could support, because there are some good ideas here.
The Game of Monogamy

The Game of Monogamy

LP / CD / 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 »

Cassette

apparel