Saddle Creek | The Good Life | Reviews


Black Out

Author: Elizabeth Ferris
3/4/2002 | Mere Exposure | | Album Review
In "High Fidelity," Jon Cusack asked, "Did I listen to pop music because I was depressed, or was I depressed because I listened to pop music?" That's the general feeling I take from listening to the latest Good Life release.

Simply put, "Black Out" is manic-depressive.

The album addresses some heavy emotions with a barrage of keyboards, synthesizers, organs and guitars, creating an occasionally optimistic tone. One minute, singer Tim Kasher is up. Then he's down. And when it rains, it pours.

Romance seems to have failed Kasher in every way, and the entire album reflects this misfortune. Sadly, Kasher is not lacking in credibility, making his wailings more acceptable. On both "Domestica" - the 2000 release of Kasher's other band, Cursive - and on the first Good Life release, "Novena on a Nocturn", Kasher sings genuinely about the pains of his divorce. "Black Out" is another full studio response to this theme, and it's clear Kasher's scars are still visible.

The first track, "Black Out," is a poem of sorts that sets the tone and establishes a general theme for the album: emotional decay. The bouncy, ambient electronic noises linking the first track to the next are an attempt to distract the listener and lift their spirits - and it works. Listening to "The Beaten Path" feels like watching a parade. The clapping and la-la-la's are immediately infecting.

The entire album has a logical flow, like a novel. Pinpointing a climax is difficult, but there's a definite introduction and conclusion, with lots of character development and conflict in between. The setting is bars stools, sidewalks, cars and bedrooms - typical localities of the depressed. Kasher wafts through life to the tune of shuffling electronic beats and patient guitars.

Even when the music strikes happiness in my heart, the lyrics bring me back down. I just want to find Kasher, give him a hug, get him a beer or do something, anything, to just make things better.

But fourteen tracks later, I realize this is a far-fetched possibility. Kasher is not going to just get over it, and I don't think he needs to. He seems to have come to terms with life, and now he's just holding on. "Black Out" is just another step in the healing process, and it's a good thing we get to listen in.
Black Out

Black Out

LP / CD / MP3