Author: Jim Farber
Tim Kasher doesn't want to grow up ? or get married or have kids or commit to anything like an exclusive romantic relationship.At least he doesn't in his songs.The front man for the Iowa-based alt-rock band Cursive fashioned his entire solo debut, "The Game of Monogamy," as one long freakout in the face of the title situation ? not to mention a kick in the shins to much of adult life."I'm a grown man/how did this happen?" Kasher sings at the CD's start. "People are going to start expecting more from me/but this is all I am."Kasher has followed such flinches with a new EP, "Bigamy," which extends the discomfort for seven more tracks. He timed "Bigamy" with a solo tour that comes to Mercury Lounge on Wednesday.Given the clarity, drama and candor of Kasher's recoil ? all told without the shield of metaphor ? you wonder if he feels at all self-conscious."A certain amount of unease can be good for your writing," he says. "I get a kick out of going out on a limb, knowing full well that exposing yourself so much can be reviled."If the CD hasn't exactly gotten that reaction, it has perplexed some longtime fans who know Kasher from the more youthful and rocking works of Cursive. Both "Monogamy" and "Bigamy" feature elaborate string arrangements, creating a fancy and theatrical sound."When I was writing the music and the lyrics, I was seeing this as almost soap-operatic, in a sardonic way," Kasher says. "I wanted to give the music a feel that matched a '50s view of monogamy ? the most stagnant version."The result could be viewed as rock's answer to "Revolutionary Road," Richard Yates' indictment of '50s suburban conformity, or a modern corollary to Stephen Sondheim's classic midlife-crisis-as-song-cycle, "Company."In the pop realm, "Monogamy" bears some relation to Paul Simon's 1975 expression of middle-age malaise, "Still Crazy After All These Years." Kasher's age roughly parallels Simon's of that era. (He's 37, while Paul was 33 when he released "Still Crazy.")"When I rounded the corner of my 30s, I felt this kind of oppression of settling down," he says. "It was all self-imposed. No one pressured me. It was probably just my own Catholic, Midwestern guilt saying what I was feeling was wrong." To drive home the point, Kasher says he focused "on the dreariest aspects" of married life.Kasher ? who was married briefly in his 20s ? says he's pleased that his questioning of monogamy has gotten many nods of approval, not just from men but often women.As it turns out, his maverick status doesn't only apply to his personal life, but to his work as well. Kasher has hooked up with another band over the years, the Good Life. He's currently recording an album with Cursive. In addition, Kasher writes (unproduced) screenplays. "I love that there's a loose attachment to all these projects," he says. "It makes me like them better."He readily admits that a fear of mortality underlies all his conflicted feelings."I can't stand the speed at which we're hurtling toward the grave," Kasher says. "But I'm still fairly young in the grander scheme of thing. So, hopefully, this will only be my first reaction to it all."