Sunday, April 4, 2010

Domestica Review

Heartbreak can be utilized to make some really fantastic, emotional music or it can completely tarnish your message by coming off whiny and pretentious. In the case of Cursive's 2001 album "Domestica", it works to the band's advantage. They create a consistently intelligent and cryptic record through lead man Tim Kasher's wonderful writing. He uses every form of figurative language at his disposal as a tool to form wonderful atmosphere and raw emotion. Coming off of his divorce just before the band's reformation after a short hiatus, he had plenty of material to pour into the band's third studio effort. It may take more than a few listens to absorb all the thick metaphors found within "Domestica", but you'll have no trouble starting again from the beginning to enjoy this raw, dark ride.

The opening track wastes no time with introducing you to rough guitars and cymbal crashes. It soon slows down to allow Kasher to work you up to the chorus, which moves back to the guitar and drums. This track, like the rest of the record, weaves a story through metaphors accentuated by Kasher's perfectly emotional shouts.

"There's still a hole where the phone was thrown
It's growing as we speak
And it's sucking us both in"

When the music cuts out and all you hear is Kasher shouting the above lyrics you get a raw view into the desperate mind of the narrator. There's no pseudo-passion to be found on this record, with each song spouting uncensored rage and depression. Kasher delivers each line with the perfect tinge of sadness and desperation and you know he's been through all of it. His flawless display of his heart demands respect and he certainly earns mine.

Despite being dark and moody, Cursive finds a way to make some very catchy songs. The faster moving songs like "Shallow Means, Deep Ends" and "The Radiator Hums" hold some of the catchier choruses of the record. The guitar work on the latter song is impressive and rhythmic with the way it flows in the intro and with Kasher's voice in the chorus -- The same could be said for the bass line in that song as well as in "The Game Of Who Needs Who The Worst". "The Lament Of Pretty Baby" is another of those emotional and cryptic tracks that beg for an explanation but the meaning is left up to the listener.

One wonderful aspect of this record is how songs later on in the record tie back in to the earlier numbers. This can be found on "The Night I Lost The Will To Fight" as well as "The Lament Of Pretty Baby" where they both tie back into the opening track, "The Casualty". These subtle nods help bring the story full circle while not being blatantly obvious. Of course, you'd have to attempt to decipher what they meant in the first place, which is difficult enough by itself.

On the subject of the story, it is told through two characters going through a divorce. They go by "Pretty Baby" and "Sweetie", both being mentioned many times throughout the record. Taking both of their stories and fitting them into place with each other creates a truly remarkable story arch which is impressive to display through music. Tim Kasher takes the metaphors he's so talented at creating and uses them to their full effect to create a story that hits close to home with him.

It could easily be said that Tim Kasher is what makes "Domestica" so effective, but in truth the record wouldn't be quite as memorable had it not been for the musical contributions from the other members of the band. The music is raw and appropriate for the material it is setting the backdrop for, as well as being impressively played. The sharp guitar and flowing bass on "The Martyr" seem so natural with the vocals that you really appreciate the work put into constructing it.

"Domestica" is Cursive's masterpiece. The solid and vivid story told through the wonderful music and raw emotion pouring from Tim Kasher are what make this so memorable. It grew and grew on me with repeated listens and honestly it demands several hearings in order to take it all in. You can't truly appreciate the beauty of it until you sit down absorb the words and feelings coming from the narrators. It is no surprise that they went on to make more successful and well-written records as well as catch the attention of many fans and critics. "Domestica" will be seen as where Cursive began to really get a flow as a band and for good reason -- It is nearly perfect with what it is trying to do.

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