It’s been well over 10 years since Cursive’s year-long hiatus broke. And thank goodness they came back. With each album release, Cursive makes themselves an even more memorable and significant member of the emo/post-rock genre. We would’ve missed out on albums like the compelling The Ugly Organ (2003), Happy Hollow (2006) and Mama, I’m Swollen (2009), had they not returned. The group’s 2003 release was highly praised for the defiant and provoking songwriting accompanied by somewhat compromising lyrics, making it possibly their most defining release.
In February of this year, Cursive released their seventh full-length album in 15 years, entitled I Am Gemini. The band went to Seattle to develop their newly-desired “heavier” sound with producer and musician Matt Bayles. Bayles, in the past, has produced, engineered, and mixed bands including Isis, Botch, Mastodon and Russian Circles.
The album, like many in the past, is a conceptual one, covering such matters as schizophrenia, double personalities and “getting lost inside one’s head.” The story is about two twin brothers who have never met and are moral opposites of each other: one of them is “good” and the other “evil.” The brothers end up unexpectedly being reunited in a house that is home to neither of them. The opening track, “This House Alive,” combines the band’s well known ability of post-rockish ambiance with Tim Kather’s eloquent lyricism and soft, yet outpouring voice to create a piece that is all the best parts of beautiful and heart wrenching at the same time.
“The story had been in Tim’s head for a while,” says Matt Maginn, bass player since the band’s inception in 1995. “I think that he just wasn’t sure if he should make the idea into a screenplay or a record or what.”
The band’s lyricism has always been quite passionate, theatrical and almost at times concerning in regards of the mental health of Kasher himself. But most of all, they remain powerful, unique and monumental.
To coincide with Kasher’s idea of a screenplay for the album, the sleeve of the album actually includes a “play bill” describing mentioned characters and mapping out the story using lyrics as script and further narration to fill in the holes.
Maginn explains how the band had written all of the music for the album before even knowing about the concept or hearing any lyrics, which was something they had not attempted thus far.
“It was super adventurous – even scary to have to sequence all the music with the lyrics,” says Maginn.
“We didn’t even hear it all together until we were recording it.’
Though to me, the album can be somewhat confusing at times – it does still separate itself and remain unique to past albums.
“We just kinda wanted to go back to riffing. I mean, we’re not shredders or anything like that, but the sound is still our own.”
Maginn compares the album to the 2000 release of Domestica and adds it’s “just not as pretty.” Cursive has developed some new combination of riffing and mechanics in their style of songwriting.
“It’s kind of post-rock mixed with melodic pop,” laughs Maginn.
The group has already set out on a fairly lengthy tour – which Canadian dates include accompanying bands Brand New and An Horse, which are more than sure to complete a truly amazing evening of music.
“I am excited to play Calgary again,” says Maginn.
“We haven’t been there since we played Sled Island a couple years back. Maybe we’ll do that again sometime, too.”
Cursive, Brand New and An Horse will be playing at Mac Hall Ballroom on Friday, August 10.
By Sara Mohan
Photo: Daniel Muller