For a songwriter like Tim Kasher, whose angst-ridden vocal shouts and cynicism have aged strangely over time, artistic output is bound to change as time advances. On I Am Gemini, Cursive’s seventh full-length (and the 12th LP in total bearing Kasher’s credit), Kasher & Co. try their hand at a full-blown rock opera. I Am Gemini is a 13-track ride through a story of two twins (Cassius and Pollock, separated at birth) who just might be the same person. The music is grooving post-punk, as expected, and the lyrics are so dense that they are impossible to decipher without the Playbill style album insert (take that, pirates!) So why are critics and fans so quick to dismiss Cursive’s latest output?
The fact of the matter is the album is not quite what we’ve come to expect from Kasher or his comrades. The album’s sound rides a fine line between polished stadium pop-punk and grunge, to mixed results. And the instrumentation is impressive, but sometimes so boyishly clever that the listener imagines the fellows in Cursive are smirking as they play. That being said, I Am Gemini is a terrific album. It’s just not as breathtakingly amazing as, say, The Ugly Organ or The Good Life’s Black Out (also fronted by Kasher). However, being a balls-to-the-wall concept album, Gemini definitely has a better flow than Happy Hollow or Kasher’s recent solo endeavor, The Game of Monogamy.
At the end of the day, this rock opera is well written and finely produced (props, yet again, to Matt Bayles). The guitars swell, the keyboard and synth arrangements nice without being too overwhelming, and Cully Symington does a nice job on his first outing backing the group on drums. Post-punk ballad “The Sun and Moon” and the moody thrasher “Wowowow” are particularly worth a listen, if you’re okay with the lyrics making absolutely no sense outside of the context of the record’s opera. The only true disappointment is that the group attempts to revisit punchy, abrasive sound that was missing on Mama, I’m Swollen and parts of Happy Hollow (and which makes them such a stellar live act), with the result not entirely reminiscent of the Cursive we used to know and love. Small gripes aside, I Am Gemini is another impressive stage on a continuous journey of growth and ambition.
Blood Brothers – Young Machetes
mewithoutYou – Catch for Us the Foxes
Criteria – En Garde
Stream: Cursive – “The Sun and Moon”