CD Review: Cursive — Mama, I’m Swollen

CursiveMama Cursive

Mama, I’m

Saddle Creek

By Julia Reidy

The seminal Omaha band’s seventh full-length record seems almost made to be listened to in terms
of pacing. It’s like an amusement park ride, quick and thrilling at times, but
slowing suddenly, menacingly, right before a breathtaking plunge. When it
relaxes, it does so via slowing tempo and dropping volume, but also through
dramatic stylistic shifts. Compare the breathy, plodding delivery of “We’re
Going To Hell” with the jaded wail of “Mama, I’m Satan,” or with the synthy
groove/soaring anthem of “Let Me Up.” Opener “In The Now” rockets right out of
the gates with warped guitars and the refrain, “Don’t want to live in the now,
don’t want to know what I know.” Throughout the record, angst-filled vocals
meet bendy guitar melodies — they alternate between pitch perfect and precise,
and warped and atonal. Tracks are sometimes broken by noise-maker effects and
creepy instrumentals, never letting the listener get too comfortable.

The only aspect of the record not undergoing constant
transformation is the lyricism. As always, Tim Kasher’s poetic prowess is the
driving force behind the band’s compositions. The level of cynicism, the talent
for pointing out frailty and hypocrisy in human nature takes center stage,
bolstered by a literary knowledge and gift with wordplay almost second to none
(see the play on “bipedal” and “backpedal” in “Caveman”). The record’s
ostensible single, “From The Hips” serves as a microcosm of the band’s talents
and the content appearing on Mama, I’m
. “I hate this damn enlightenment; we were better off as animals,”
Kasher intones, driving home what seems to be the entire thesis of the record:
that anything but authenticity is repugnant. It’s a mixture between a ballad
and an up-tempo rocker, culminating, like Cursive’s whole discography, in an
impassioned howl.

Cursive will play the
Variety Playhouse with glorious, theatrical circus-rockers Man Man this Friday,
May 1.


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