REVIEW: Cursive – “I Am Gemini”

[Feb. 21, 2012 – Saddle Creek // Find it at: Insound | iTunes]


For his solo debut in 2010, Cursive’s unchained lyrical grenadier Tim Kasher released The Game of Monogamy, a manifesto about middle age and modern American married life. Most of those songs serve the chief purpose of helping the singer air a lot of personal grievances and shortcomings, but throughout the album there are two clearly defined main characters — the bride and the groom. Kasher did this before, in the form of “Sweetie” and “Pretty Baby” on Cursive’s Domestica, written in the wake of his own divorce. On I Am Gemini, he’s done it again… kind of. This time, the main characters are derived from the twins of Greek mythology, Castor and Pollux (your friends born between May 21 and June 20 may be more familiar with them). But it doesn’t take a close reading of the lyrics (or the physical album’s comprehensive script and liner notes) to deduce the two brothers are meant to represent two halves of Kasher’s own personality, where opposing forces like brawn and intelligence and good and evil face off in “Gemini” (“Who has been controlling everything I do and say? They sure as hell have made some foul mistakes”) and “The Cat and Mouse” (“All my life I’ve been made to do what’s right / well all my life is going to end tonight”).

It can be a little exhausting keeping up with Kasher’s verses — considering he rarely varies the sound of his voice from character to character — but hooks have been sewn into the prose in manageable chunks that make it possible for listeners to occasionally sing along without needing the sheet music. If you do happen to lose track of Kasher’s narrative, the other members of the band capably express the major beats of story with their hands and feet. The instrumentals exhibit such variety it would be unfair to call what they represent simply “duality,” wavering from harmonious orchestral progressions to chaotic guitar and dissonant piano to simple lyrical backdrop – all engineered to flow seamlessly together. But this doesn’t give the album a better crafted story than The Game of Monogamy, or make it a more gratifying listen than Domestica. It may rock harder than anything the band’s done in a few years, but Kasher’s vocal detachment doesn’t quite do the subject matter justice.

Download: “The Sun And Moon”, “Gemini”

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