Cursive | Mama, I’m Swollen
Most Likely To: make you forget there was a U2 release this week.
The good news: Cursive’s last two proper albums (2003’s Ugly Organ and 2006′s Happy Hollow) got heaps of praise from the likes of Rolling Stone, AP, Blender, and Spin. And the guys have also found the cure to VD.
The bad news: most of those “music” magazines blow chunks and lost all credibility and influence in the dying days of the cassingle. Oh yeah, and that VD thing? I totally made that up, so you still might want to head down the clinic to get that thing checked out there, champ.
Die hard Cursive fans have been (im)patiently waiting for the next album, and Mama, I’m Swollen has finally arrived. Swollen contains lush soundscapes, dense lyrics, and explores a lot of territory over its 10 songs. “Donkeys” deals with running away from everyday issues like mortgages and bad relationships to an imaginary Pleasure Island. (I’ve been to Pleasure Island, and let me tell you, its one dive of a strip club.) On “What Have I Done,” singer/songwriter Tim Kasher details a lonely life on the road, scribbling lyrics on paper plates. At the end of the song, it really sounds like he’s literally tearing his heart out as he wails “what have I done” over and over. Who among us hasn’t wondered the same thing after a night of drunk dialing?
The album is easy to get into, and grows well with repeated listening. There’s always a new instrument or lyrical nuance that manifests itself. Kasher has the skill to pull off lines like “I’m at my best when I’m at my worst”. Cursive’s opening gig with The Cure reveals itself on “I Couldn’t Love You.” Drummer Cornbread Compton can set the foreboding tone to “Mama, I’m Swollen,” then go all Chris Brown on his set and intensify the melody.
Swollen is one of those records that blurs labels. It’s too good/smart for pop, and too pop for college radio. No pop station is going to shoe horn “From the Hips” in between pabulum like All American Rejects and Coldplay. No college station is likely going to squeeze Cursive in between Kings of Leon and Lucinda Williams (although that does sound like a party). Longtime fans will find a lot to like on the record, and it still has the uncanny ability to draw new fans in.
Listen to “From the Hips” from Cursive: