Record Review - 2 October 07 2004

Tim Kasher, frontman for Omaha post-punks Cursive, makes his usual band almost seem like one-trick ponies when he works with his other project, the Good Life. After releasing the Lovers Need Lawyers EP, earlier this year, Kasher switches formats to put out the full-length Album of the Year. The new album clearly shows the difference between Kasher's two outlets. While Cursive goes for the jugular, with terse, grating rhythms only partially mediated by cello flourishes, the Good Life is a showcase of different moods, from near-waltzes to theatrically flavored dramatic fare to all-out white-knuckled, emotional proclamation.

The title song tells the story of the beginning, middle and ultimate catharsis of a relationship's end. It sets the tone for much of what follows. "Under a Honeymoon" follows a similar trajectory, marching to a gentle bongo drumbeat before exploding into a mass of toms, horns and Kasher's caterwauling. "Notes in His Pocket" is reminiscent of Kasher's Cursive persona as it takes a foot-tapping intro into a messy breakdown of noodling guitar and power chords galore. On "Inmates," Jiha Lee, a former band member featured on the 2002 release Black Out, delivers a light, solemn but lilting vocal performance that gives Album of the Year all the ingredients of, well, an album of the year.

-- Nikhil Swaminathan

The Good Life plays MJQ's Drunken Unicorn Sun., Oct. 10. Call for time and ticket price.