Reviews

The Game of Monogamy

Author: Reach Aarik Danielsen
12/09/2010 | Columbia Tribune | www.columbiatribune.com | Live Show Preview
Tired of the "silly love songs" Paul McCartney swore up and down "some people wanna fill the world with?" The two most prominent acts on Sunday's Blue Note bill are touring behind albums that tackle topics of love, sex, marriage, makeups and breakups. Yet no track on Minus the Bear's "Omni" or Tim Kasher's "The Game of Monogamy" could be mistaken as silly or heart-fluttering. Instead, these tunes are raw and carnal, their narrators often selfish and salacious. These are love songs for grownups, the sort still trying to sort out the opposite sex.
MINUS THE BEAR

"Omni" finds quirky Seattle band Minus the Bear acting as the thinking man's Maroon 5. "My Time" opens the record with a sensual, synthy pop number with a bright, retro groove not unlike the kind Beck traffics in; throughout, singer Jake Snider keeps the come-ons coming. Producer Joe Chiccarelli aided My Morning Jacket's trek into soul-influenced, territory on "Evil Urges" and proves a suitable guide here as the band joins disparate influences "into a sweeping collection marked by its slinky and sensual melding of city-stomping rock and deep funk grooves," as stated on the band's website. The band sows its wild R&B and funk oats while maintaining its prog-rock personality.

Kasher's record approximates the often petulant, often profound self-talk of a character not unlike the Peter-Pan types on which director Judd Apatow trains his camera. Yet there's nothing funny about the emotions the Cursive frontman exhibits; he eloquently, viscerally expresses vulnerability, bravado, relational wanderlust and the desire to have the desire to commit.

Musically, he has never been more brilliant; the album is alternately cinematic and intimate with lush arrangements adding flesh to each song's thoughtful skeleton. He rummages through a number of sounds and styles in proposing musical remedies for a heart that finds itself lonely though not alone orchestral swells, garage rock guitars, marching beats, third-wave ska and new-wave rock all cohabitate here. Although there are big, bombastic moments, the record's standout offers a few of its softest, most subtle ones. "There Must Be Something I've Lost" opens with discordant violin before marrying autumnal folk and acoustic bossa nova. With Kasher delivering a melancholy melody, the song sounds as resonant and aching as similar tunes recorded by The National. Mature content meets a mature sound here.
The Game of Monogamy

The Game of Monogamy

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