April 14, 2003

Cursive "The Ugly Organ"

Wow. When did Cursive grow up on us? This is not the same annoying emo band that made records with pompous "artsy" titles and bland, by-the-book music. In fact, I don't hear anything remotely like their early days--and that's a great thing, too. As snarky as that sounds, I could easily be snarkier. In fact, I kind of planned on it, but the more I listened to The Ugly Organ, it just didn't seem that copping an attitude on Cursive would serve any purpose--especially when their record is EXCELLENT.

First of all, The Ugly Organ is the first Cursive record to fully utilize the Gretta Cohn's cello abilities. Instead of novelty, Cursive use it to their full advantage, and it sounds wonderful. But, you see, there's another band who did this several years ago--Smart Went Crazy. Led by the underrated genius of studio wizard Chad Clark, they made one of the best damn albums of the 1990s, Con Art, and then imploded. The Ugly Organ is really, truly, the first album to come rather close to pulling the sword out of the Smart Went Crazy stone. Lucikly, Cursive never really sound like they're stealing directly, except maybe for "A Brief Conversation Ending in Divorce"-soundalike "Some Red Handed Slight of Hand."

Oh, but they are majorly guilty of a rip-off, and it's one that I simply cannot get over. Tim Kasher is way, way, WAY guilty of many a Robert Smithism. Yeah, Cursive have stolen much from the Cure, it seems. You simply cannot attempt to tell me that "The Recluse" doesn't sound like a total rip-off of "Lovesong," or that "Driftwood: A Fairy Tale" wouldn't sound out place on Standing On the Beach. I thought that the world had bored of that "let's steal from Robert Smith"-genre of goth YEARS ago, or maybe they didn't get the news yet in Omaha. Who knows?

The Ugly Organ is the sound of a band that's hit a great new sound, a style all of their own--yet they've really not mastered the recipe yet. The sound is vast, expansive, and dark; once Kasher and company break away from this relationship they have with "art," they could easily make a great record. There's some sort of concept theme going here--look at the lyrics, they're written kind of like a play, but I'm not getting it. If they'd just break away from their effort at being arty and let their music speak for itself, Cursive could really, truly be innovative. Personally, I can't wait.

--Joseph Kyle

No comments: