And now our roots grow deep

There was a band during the Britpop years called Brassy. They weren’t very good. One of their songs was their band name spelled out. I think their lead singer Muffin was related to Jon Spencer – the Blues Explosion one, not the Chelsea one.

Anyway, the new Cursive album Happy Hollow is out next month, and it, too, is Brassy. I really dug their previous record, The Ugly Organ, because it had cellos and sounded mournful but still heavy as aw’hell. When I heard that the cello player had left, I was a little trepid. I think that’s the word. When you display trepidation? Instead of strings, there’s a lot of brass on Happy Hollow, and consequently, it’s a really uptempo album which I’m pleased to say, is fantastic.

Tim Kasher’s lyrical themes are always very strong, and this album seems to center around Red State/Blue State values and politics. ‘Flag and Family’ is about a soldier sent off to war as a last resort, ‘Big Bang’ is brilliant and about evolution (“They said there was a big bang once, but that don’t jive with Adam and Eve”), and “Retreat!” almost comes across as an open letter to Mr. Christ - “since you’ve been away on holiday, we’ve hosted a few wars over you” - and probably won’t win the band too many new Bible-Belt fans, although there’s some gospel crooning over the end of it. The first and last tracks have the same tune, and I'll even forgive the way the opener comes to almost a complete stop a minute in, after building some heavy momentum.

Saddle Creek have put up a couple of tracks, showing off the album’s different styles. ‘Dorothy at Forty’ is hard and heavy and features Kasher’s bellow; whilst ‘Bad Sects’ is much more gentle, perhaps more in line with old Cursive. I’m putting up another song, ‘Bad Science’, which really highlights the new trumpets, but still rocks like a hurricane.

So, it’s a healthy departure, not entirely a complete reinvention, and the only disappointing thing is that album cover – what’s going on there?

[download Cursive – Bad Science]


Matt Gilmour said...

Holy shit, that album cover is TERRIBLE. I'm a huge fan of The Ugly Organ as well (even though I "should" like their earlier stuff, but whatever -- I tend to be partial to my first introduction to a band), and I'm looking forward to giving this record a listen within the next few weeks.

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