Saddle Creek | Tim Kasher | Reviews


The Game of Monogamy

Author: Justin Wood
10/21/2010 | | | Album Review
Tim Kasher is great at providing stirring accounts of his struggles as an artist, though he remains immature in his accounts of his relationships with women. One song in recent memory that might explain this discrepancy is Mama I'm Swollen's "What Have I Done," containing "I'm gonna write my Moby Dick/ More like scratching lyrics on paper plates." Such a self-deprecating statement could be why he chooses to write less about his personal ambitions and more about sex and romance- as a way perhaps to lighten the mood or hide from possible failure. Still, even though his new solo album The Game of Monogamy follows that same trend, it does have elements of a man challenging himself to create a snapshot of something completely private, like an account of his journey through adulthood. As he states on "I'm Afraid I'm Gonna Die Here," "I gotta write another chapter/ I've been feeling incomplete/ This epic voyage of my '30s/ Reads a little weak" - a prologue to his life story.

The Game of Monogamy makes a grand entrance with its first song "Monogamy Overture," by incorporating members of the Glacier National Symphony. Once the solemn string arrangement and fluttering woodwinds bow out, the next song, "A Grown Man," features Kasher in two sets of a cappella. His voice, however, sounds more sleazy than sincere, as though he were doing his best to emulate Tom Waits' "I Don't Wanna Grow Up." "I don't want a kid, and I can't keep being one," he says, amongst a tedious tantrum of sound. Though the song is a jarring racket by design, it is quickly redeemed by the following tracks. Structurally, "I'm Afraid I'm Gonna Die Here" sounds like the Good Life's "Album of the Year," where the acoustic tempo is replaced predominantly by live-wire horns and handclaps. On "Strays," Kasher recounts the makings of a long-term relationship joined together by a dog, the symbol of any growing family. The song could be the antithesis to the Good Life's "Inmates," played against a bittersweet harmonica and an honest chord progression to reflect his genuine feelings.

Recalling The Ugly Organ's double entendre, Kasher includes sexual innuendos all throughout The Game of Monogamy. "Bad, Bad Dreams" is a character's guilty plea for misbehavior. However, the throbbing desperation could actually be a step up from the primordial urges he injected on Cursive's "From the Hips." In fact, on "There Must Be Something I've Lost," Kasher's self-awareness allows him to change from depraved to simply perverse, as he acknowledges, "Why don't you leave those poor girls alone/ They don't need you anymore" backed up by a beautiful array of classical instruments, making it the overwhelming highlight of the album.

While the splattered paint and splintered keys from Cursive's signature sound may be missing, The Game of Monogamy still manages to excite just as much as it intrigues. Kasher is an undeniable talent; he can take a clever line such as, "We used to roll around like bear cubs/ Now all we wrestle with is indifference" and hide it in a verse of a song that will likely get noticed solely for its chorus. He can be satirical about love, while still holding it up in the most pristine condition. Regardless of whether he's writing about a whale or a wife, Kasher's work explores what we all strive to understand - the relationship with god, love and most importantly ourselves, even if his beaten-down songbook is far from being a classic novel.
The Game of Monogamy

The Game of Monogamy

LP / CD / MP3