“DD Review: Cursive – Vitriola.”

Score: 8.5/10


So am I to understand this right, Tim Kasher of Cursive is really not Connor Oberst? Could somebody scientifically ascertain this for me, please? I mean, they sound exactly alike, and they’re both from Omaha, Nebraska and are or have been on Omaha’s Saddle Creek Records.
Well, from the sheer BITE of Cursive’s new album, which sort of sounds like The Dismemberment Plan holed up in the middle of nowhere and spent two months smoking weed and listening to Wolves in the Throne Room, you’ll know that it’s not Bright Eyes (nothing against that band, which I know a lot of chicks that like). “Free to Be or Not to Be You and Me” and “Pick up the Pieces,” the first two songs on the album, each march out this eerie, stark brand of punk-infused heavy metal, with the suddenness and abruptness of Wolf Parade and the instrumentational expansiveness of Rush. “It’s Gonna Hurt,” then, track three, slower yet somehow more forceful, softer in tone but somehow more powerful, comes in as an eerily immediate and direct caterwaul against relationship angst, towing a blistering guitar solo along for the ride. “Under the Rainbow” totes that same guitar peal but places it within a chorus, as a backdrop of rock euphoria all over the lyrical vagaries on the part of Kasher. One thing curious about“Under the Rainbow” is its precocious knack for morphing into a major chord progression within the chorus, as an unexpected ploy, which acts as perhaps nothing more than an indication that this band has a strong sense of influences, a la The New Pornographers.

By “Remorse,” Vitriola has settled into that sort of unabashedly melancholy sad-guy rhapsody territory we’ve come to know from this band routinely over the years. So why don’t I MIND? Well, uh, it’s still pretty cool… Kasher’s vocals are cloaked in this oozy effect as if he’s singing from inside a closet that has a leaf blower on in it, and those guitars still have a way of COVERING the mix, as if something you don’t even really HEAR, but rather just feel, like a breeze in the back of your head. The song’s end, when it’s all said and done, gives us a new escapade in space and noise, coalescing to an oblivion session that finds gentle piano tiptoeing around, but mostly a lot of feedback and found sounds. It’s refreshing indeed as a bookend to what could otherwise threaten to succumb to stasis of feeling, in “Remorse.”

“Ouroboros,” named after the mythical serpent which eats its own tail, is an interesting stomper, inviting in again those treated drums that have marked the punctiliousness in production all over this haunting LP. The chorus is astonishingly simple, just yielding the word “Ouroboros” over and over, and what’s also astonishing is that, despite all the energy, ploys and tactics, you still don’t really know what KIND of song this is supposed to be – like it’s definitely not punk, it doesn’t have enough guitar to qualify as metal (thank God, after the “fleets” of tired old Fender I heard on the last band I listened to), it’s too loud to be ambient… it’s like if Godspeed You! Black Emperor actually wrote a song and had a singer, kinda. And yes, it is as unsettling and scary as you’d think that’d be, just in time for Halloween, to boot.

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