Reviews

Black Out

Author: Annie Zaleski
03/05/2002 | Billboard.com | Album Review
The bands on Nebraska-based indie label Saddle Creek -- the Faint, Cursive, Bright Eyes, Lullaby For The Working Class -- resemble one big, happy family, sharing members and lending musical helping hands to one another freely. Omaha-based the Good Life is the latest group to benefit from the communal nature of the label. Fronted by Tim Kasher, who doubles as the singer in hard-driving post punk outfit Cursive, TGL's second album, "Black Out," was produced by and recorded at the studio of ex-Lullaby member Mike Mogis.

Despite its incestuous nature, the great thing about Saddle Creek is how each of its bands sound distinct in spite of the swapping. Whereas Cursive cloaks its emotions in fierce and churning riffs, the Good Life reins in the tempos and lets sorrow unfold with tantalizing slowness. "Black Out" is an anguished study of lost love, utilizing twitching, cut-and-paste electronica, sparse guitars, and splashes of reeds, piano, and strings to magnify Kasher's heart-wrenching, Robert Smith-like vocals.

This patchwork combination works superbly to match the fragile and naked emotion conveyed by the lyrics, which are vignettes of pain dulled by drunken nights and regrets. Songs like "Drinking With the Girls" and "O' Rourke's, 1:20 a.m." stretch out with hazy passion, less structured songs than poems of longing clouded with bitter memories of the past.

While the lack of hooks or catchy choruses makes this album more of a challenging listen than the band's 2000 set "Novena on a Nocturn," the rough, sprawling "Black Out" ultimately rewards listeners handily with emotional richness and raw despair.
Black Out

Black Out

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