Last year, I placed Cursive’s latest release, 2012’s I Am Gemini, as my album of the year.
Here’s what I wrote then, and some new thoughts at the bottom:
Look, I don’t want to say I’d follow Tim Kasher to the end of the earth. Maybe just his music. But Cursive’s latest, I Am Gemini, takes another sharp turn for the Omaha-based band and cements their legacy amongst the elite indie bands to come out of the Midwest.
Hard to believe that I’ve been listening to Cursive for over a decade and just about every other year or so, like clockwork, they roll out another gem. Many listeners of the band long for a time just after the release of The Ugly Organ, the album considered by many to be their best work.
But that was a full 10 years ago. Now when I listen to that record, I appreciate it for what it meant then. Greta Cohn, cellist for the band at the time, added significant flavor to that album- but simultaneously crippled the band’s ability to progress.
A cello’s sound has a certain… panache or flair. It has to fit. It definitely fit for The Ugly Organ, but when Cohn left Cursive in 2005 to pursue other interests, the lack of a cello unlocked the band’s sound. The result was Happy Hollow in 2006, ironically the record from their catalogue that I love the most. Mama, I’m Swollen followed in 2009 and saw the band plunge deep into the darker corners of their musicality.
I Am Gemini is a concept album of sorts, a first for Cursive (unless you consider Domestica to be about married life, and Happy Hollow to be a critique of mass religion). It’s an elaborate tale of two brothers, Cassius and Pollock, told over 13 tracks. And if I say literally any more, I will spoil the whole surprise because I don’t know where to stop. THEY BOTH WAKE UP AT THE END FROM THE DREAM!
Not really though. This is an album that significantly benefits from the booklet provided (should you purchase a physical copy of it, that is). I highly encourage you to read along to the lyrics as you listen to get the full effect.
Gemini is at times is downright dancey: “Drunken Birds,” “Double Dead” and “Gemini” all thump with fancy bass lines.
Lead single “The Sun and The Moon” sees Kasher stretch his vocal ability several registers higher than normal. “The Cat and the Mouse” is anthemic and driving. “Eulogy for No Name” caps off the story and builds over four minutes to a satisfying crescendo to close the album.
The Cursive crew (Tim Kasher, Matt Maginn, Ted Stevens) is immensely talented and consistently one of the most creative bands making music today. They’ve taken a step away from Domestica’s sheer abrasiveness and, while still maintaining the loud, have crafted a refined and poignant record with I Am Gemini. It is my album of the year for 2012.
On a scale from “blinding stars” to “an eulogy,” I give Cursive’s I Am Gemini a solid “concept albums shouldn’t be dismissed because they seek to achieve more than usual.”
Standout tracks: “Wowowow” and “Warmer Warmer”
New thoughts! Because thoughts should be fresh and, idk, rotated?
Since this record was released, Tim Kasher has also come out with a new album: Adult Film. It’s super interesting to me to hear the dichotomy between the two releases. I Am Gemini was so over-the-top at times with its concept recordness, sticking to a beautifully crafted narrative – whereas Adult Film feels like pages pulled straight from Tim’s theoretical diary.
I haven’t listened to I Am Gemini much this year, due in large part to this project. It strikes me as mood music. It’s an emotionally gutting record, and one steeped in a lot of dark themes, so it makes for a heavy playthrough.
BUT! I did spend perhaps way too much time developing an intensely nerdy project I’m calling Subjective Rumbles. My first victim was Cursive. I crafted a 68 song, March Madness-style single elimination tournament bracket. It’s… as ridiculous, and maybe even more ridiculous than it sounds. Have a look, won’t you?
From I Am Gemini, this is “Double Dead” –
New standout tracks: “Drunken Birds” and “A Birthday Bash”
Weakest track: “This House a Lie” doesn’t do anything for me, really.
RIYL: Timmy K’s patchy beard.