Thursday, April 24, 2008

Cursive - 'Domestica'

Cursive's 'Domestica'
A man and a woman embraced. A variety of scenes to the couple’s right. Two catalysts for one heart broken musician to use as his own representation of the despair he has found in relationships. “Domestica” is the essential break up album for me; a beautifully aggressive look at both the male and female pathos when it comes to the end of a relationship. It is a dark, seemingly depressing record that deals with the most embarrassing and painful parts of someone’s life and turns them into sort of jilted pop songs that seem almost dirty in their bareness. Maybe, it isn’t the most original sounding record or perhaps Kasher is being just a little desperate in his lyrics, but “Domestica” is clearly a unique experience and in my opinion one of the best when it comes to conceptual records.

Cursive circa 2000
Cursive formed in Omaha in 1995 releasing a variety of post-hardcore influenced material that was bottomed out by its incorporation of the intensely personal Saddle Creek sound. In 1998 Cursive lost a variety of members and as result declared the band over but only a year and half later they came back with a new guitarist and with what in my opinion is their best album, “Domestica". "Domestica's" overlying concept is the exploration of a couple’s relationship as it slowly dissolves. Perhaps what really strengthens the lyrical content is how Tim Kasher is perfectly able to represent his flaws and anger. The constant tussle between admittance and complete denial makes the record breathe real in its pure reflection of the dissolution of relationships. One could say this is because the story of "Domestica" carries an odd familiarity to the real life experiences of the lyricist. Whether Kasher is just a master of storytelling or baring his heart is regardless as he is convincing in his role of speaker for the two vicious characters he has created in "Domestica". Kasher can step into the shoes of a work drained passionless shell as he does on “The Martyr";

"He claims he's the victim
Strangled by the nine-to-five

And a pattern of stillness

That haunted this still life"

And then stream the same self lamenting into free conscious imagery that visually puts the listener into the variety of situations that are being presented in “Domestica”. '"There's still a hole where the phone was thrown" in "The Casualty" is a great image that Kasher half stutters his way through. "Shallow Means, Deep Ends" spits in metaphoric imagery with Kasher examining the impact of gossip on relationships while sounding is made more legitimate with the songs beautiful wording;

"But still I can hear those dirty birds chirp away
It's a song I know by heart
Sometimes I resent making friends and acquaintances

It's a thin veil between us"

'Domestica' musically is just as beautiful as it is lyrically. The rhythmic section has clearly taken a page from the book of Unwound and Fugazi creating a powerfully heavy bottom-end that allows Kasher and fellow guitarist Ted Stevens to craft beautifully atmospheric intertwining guitar lines that are far more beautiful than anything the band has done since. "The Lament of Pretty Baby" seems to be the climax of the guitars ability to perfectly fit together. The song is a dizzying combination of heavily palm muted sections with a variety of picked harmonics. The way Kasher and Stevens guitars tonally sound is fantastic and the way they both work off each other so simply yet so intelligently is extremely impressive. The most obvious strength on this record though is Kasher's vocals himself. His voice quivers and barrels into all out screams in a matter of moments but never does he lose the melody. Call it abrasive catchiness Kasher is clearly Cursive's secret component that lyrically and vocally takes the group a level above simply being another post-hardcore band.

"Dinner's getting cold
You haven't touched a thing

So what's it going to be?"

"The Radiator Hums" clearly hints that "Domestica" is moving into a different direction and the closure of the album is much less anthematic than the beginning and instead feels a little disillusioned. The sound is still heavy but instead of falling back on easily chantible choruses the three closing tracks of "Domestica" are very sullen and dynamic. It is a brilliant evolution from the more pop leaning introduction of the album. "The Radiator Hums" tosses its way between clean toned melodies and heavily distorted riffs with Kasher soulfully whispering in a way Greg Dulli only wishes he could. As some have suggested "Domestica" bares a clear relation to the Afghan Whigs' own self depreciating masterpiece "Gentlemen" but I've always heard ideas of that dealing more with Dulli's alcoholism than his actually lack of effectively communicating with the one he loves. Kasher while certainly well versed in his way with alcohol doesn't seem to travel down that road much on "Domestica". Here we find the songs focus solely on the action of the two lovers and their slow fall from grace.

tim kasher
Cursive released what will probably be their best album with "Domestica". Lyrically, musically, vocally, everything is on a point that hardly any post-hardcore band has ever reached. This is a masterpiece of a record and the praise written here is simply not even close to how much it deserves.

"One February night, we screamed our agonies
And I swear I tried to care

I tried, I tried"

Cursive - Domestica (2000)

on Cursive's latest tour they've been playing a variety of new songs. these new songs seem less complex in terms of amount of instruments in comparison to 'Happy Hollow' and 'The Ugly Organ' in other words.. it seems as if Cursive may be trying to make the successor to Domestica. here is a sample titled 'Race With'

1 comment:

soundless_space said...

Hey, awesome blog you've got here. I just wanted to let you know that I've never had the desire to listen to Cursive until I read your post about this album. I also grabbed a few other albums while I was here. Thanks!