On Tim Kasher’s solo debut, The Game of Monogamy (2010), he created an impressively well-crafted musical and lyrical story arch that followed the rise and fall of a couples’ romantic relationship. Cursive's latest disc follows in this vein and, on their forthcoming seventh disc, I Am Gemini (Saddle Creek), the band tells the story of Cassius and Pollock, twin brothers who had been separated at birth. “One good and one evil, their unexpected reunion in a house that is not a home ignites a classic struggle for the soul, played out with a cast of supporting characters that includes a chorus of angels and devils, and twin sisters conjoined at the head.”
Recorded in the summer/fall of 2011 at Omaha, NE’s ARC Studios and mixed at Red Room in Seattle, WA with producer Matt Bayles (Mastodon, Minus The Bear, Isis), I Am Gemini marks the first time front-man Tim Kasher, holding the completed story already in mind, wrote album lyrics in a linear fashion, in order, from Song 1 to Song 13. There are a couple of potential alt-radio hits on the disc but the overall result is that the thirteen songs ("chapters") form a cohesive script for a play.
Musically, I Am Gemini is able to capture a sense of urgency and energy without sacrificing production quality. There is an overall darkness to this disc but this is balanced by the disc’s consistently changing musical landscape and production which gives each song room to breathe and find its own footing. The first and last songs on the disc (“This House Alive” and “Eulogy for No Name”) serve to, respectively, introduce and close the story and there are two instrumentals on the disc which serve to separate the “acts” of the “play”.
After the slow build of the “This House Alive”, the band aggressively picks up speed and listener is drawn in from the second song (“Warmer, Warmer”) onward. Tim Kasher’s clear, melodic vocals, the band’s musical hooks and their jagged post-punk stops, starts and twists in tempo pull the listener further and further into both the music and the story arch. This last song is particularly interesting as Kasher starts the song with subdued vocals which sound like Tim Quirk’s (from Too Much Joy) before bringing this number to its crashing conclusion.
Standout Tracks: “Warmer, Warmer”, “The Sun and the Moon” and “Drunken Birds”. After these three tracks land their back-to-back punches, the listener is going to need the instrumental “Lullaby for No Name” just to catch their breath.
Note: My promo copy came with a 12 page libretto that serves both as a lyric sheet and a “playbill” for the story of Cassius and Pollock and I assume this will be included in the disc's CD booklet.
Cursive kicked off their US tour last night in Denver, CO and the band is playing two nights at Bowery Ballroom on April 3rd and 4th with support from Cymbals Eat Guitars and Conduits. Tickets for each of the nights are $16 and doors are at 7:30PM.
To get anticipation going, below is the setlist from show in Denver:
01. "This House Alive"
02. "Big Bang"
03. "A Gentleman Caller"
04. "The Sun and Moon"
05. "I Couldn't Love You"
07. "The Martyr"
09. "The Ugly Organist"
10. "The Cat and Mouse"
11. "We're Going to Hell"
12. "The Recluse"
14. "Dorothy At Forty"
15. "Art Is Hard"
16. "From the Hips"
17. "Mothership, Mothership, Do You Read Me"
19. "Eulogy For No Name"