Reviews

The Game of Monogamy

Author: Molly Templeton
10/14/2010 | Eugene Weekly | www.eugeneweekly.com | Live Show Preview
It's always been impossible to listen to Tim Kasher's songs whether with his best-known band, Cursive; his side project, The Good Life; or now, on his own and not hear them as autobiographical. All that doubt, self-reflection, self-laceration, sarcasm and the self-conscious urge to transcribe it all; all the ordinary panic, seen through a relentlessly sharp and witty eye the press release can say "Kasher's protagonist," but we're going to hear it as Kasher.

This is no less true on Kasher's new solo record, The Game of Monogamy, a pointed, painful album on which the first lines, sung a cappella in Kasher's raspy, ragged voice, are, "I am a grown man / How did this happen? People are gonna start expecting more from me / but this is all I am."

Monogamy's cover image is a tiny plastic Monopoly house. It looks like a book cover "by Tim Kasher" reads the byline and it sounds a collection of short stories, each filled with dread, guilt and uncertainty. "I'm Afraid I'm Gonna Die Here" translates life into a too-short obit ("I better write another chapter!" Kasher wails); "Cold Love," with its sarcastic horns and jaunty chorus, is a catchy, bitter pill about a relationship in a rut (a theme that comes back on "No Fireworks": "We spend the weekends on the couch / Sure, we'd go out, but we're trying to save money.") Monogamy is like a mismatched bookend to Domestica, Cursive's eviscerating 2000 album about the damage people in relationships inflict on each other. Now, the damage is less conscious, less overt. It's just what happens in the meantime.

Horns, harp and woodwinds decorate Monogamy, adding unexpected, fragile delicacy to songs like "The Prodigal Husband," which drips with nostalgia and need. But "Husband" leads straight into "Monogamy," an ominous, string-soaked, five-minute track that pulls all the record's thread together and holds them in a fist: Growing up, growing apart, failing when you expect to succeed, and just settling in anyway. "At least there's a mortgage over our heads / no, no, no; a roof's what I meant to say," Kasher sings. His tendency to correct himself saying one thing, meaning another, maybe thinking about a third keeps "Strays," the record's sweetest song, from being the oddity it first appears. Tucked amid the chronicles of dissolving relationships and muddled goals, dissatisfaction and grasping, conflicted neediness, "Strays" is a quiet ode to change and to building your own world, even if it doesn't stay. Minus the Bear, Tim Kasher and AM play at 7:45 pm Monday, Oct. 18, at the WOW Hall. $15 adv., $17 door.
The Game of Monogamy

The Game of Monogamy

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