Cursive’s Domestica and Mama, I’m Swollen

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By Joe Schearer, Photo Editor

With the hopeless, hauntingly introspective lyrics of Tim Kasher and a slew of almost always cataclysmic melodies, Omaha’s own Cursive has a dexterous ability to depress the happy-go-luckiest fellows, make the most virtuous of men question their beliefs, and break down the most perfect of relationships to a web of lies and boredom.

In 2000, the band released “Cursive’s Domestica.” The addition of guitarist Ted Stevenson rejuvenated their sound and Kasher had a plethora of painful topics to wail about. Before this album was conceived, Kasher had married and moved to Oregon. His adventure was short lived and ended in a reportedly nasty divorce; and although there is ambiguity about whether the lyrics are autobiographical, Domestica is rife with confessions and laments of the domesticated life.

The album starts off with a tale of two wounded hearts in “The Casualty.” With lines like “The night has fallen down the stair case/And I, for one, can feel its bruises” and “There’s still a hole where the phone was thrown,” we are entranced in the dark narrative of a downtrodden lover. Similar themes are included in the crowd favorite “The Martyr.” Screaming over blaring guitars, Kasher’s fictional character demands his lover to “Write some sad song about me/Claiming your agony’s playing the saint.” His descriptions can leave you wondering. Why do we stay with the one we’re with when it’s obvious that things aren’t going so well? Why do we suffer for what we think is a “bigger cause?”

Kasher picks and tears at the average relationship like a skilled physician dissecting a vital organ. He can do it with a whisper or a roar, but it’s always done with precision and genius wit. Domestica is a rough but brutally honest 32 minutes of saddening rock.

It’s about 10 years later and Cursive has garnered much acclaim from both fans and critics. Their last three albums have hit big in the indie charts and the last two have actually made the Billboard 200. Their latest effort, “Mama, I’m Swollen,” shows the band with a more diverse sound and the standard Kasher fare: Deep analysis of self, the afterlife and other topics many people are too scared to embrace on their own.

The album’s single “From the Hips” starts with calm guitars and keyboards. After some rolling drums, Kasher introduces the vocals with the lines, “I’m at my best when I’m at my worst/I’m at my worst when it’s not rehearsed.” After being through a lot in his personal life, I think that he’s trying to narrate a character who has lost his spark and any creative influence. The following lines support this claim: “We’re all just trying to play our roles/In a play that runsad nauseum.” Life is getting boring and it makes him sick. But he’s getting old and can’t go back and change things.

From 10 years ago to now, Kasher and company have been evolving into more mature human beings and artists. They’ve jumped through the hoops people have to as a norm. Kasher has always had a certain way with words. Over time, he has shifted direction in topical content, but the writing and delivery have always been quite unique and true. Matt McGinn and Ted Stevens provide exceptional melody in quiet and ferocious form. Who knows if Cursive will still be around 10 years from now? If they are, count on them to tell you how things really are.

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