Release Date: Oct 5, 2010
Record label: Saddle Creek Records
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Alternative Pop/Rock, Indie Rock
Having more or less set the template for emotionally charged indie rock over the past decade or so, it’s unsurprising that Tim Kasher’s first solo effort tackles themes of love, frustration and resentment. The driving force behind both Cursive and The Good Life, The Game of Monogamy is Kasher’s first work under his own name and fans of those bands should find themselves in familiar territory. Other Cursive members even pop up, as Patrick Newbury assists with production and Matt Matt Maginn appears on drums.
Cursive and The Good Life frontman Tim Kasher is a prime example of how sometimes the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. His uneven warble, bi-polar song structures, and intensely confessional lyrics could easily equal disaster, yet somehow Kasher’s method works. He’s an unpolished everyman, composing from our collective internal monologue and dismissing shame so we can take an unflinching look at relationships, sex, and all other manner of desires.
Tim Kasher, the inimitable Cursive frontman and the brains behind The Good Life, is at it again. If you can make it past his sometimes off-pitch vocals and blinkered perspective of relationships, there’s something worth listening to here, even if just to catch the latest chapter in Kasher’s ongoing battle with himself. If it’s not obvious by the album’s title, The Game of Monogamy is about, well, monogamy.
The great American novel, an unobtainable dream for so many writers, exists in the music world as well, though the zeitgeist is often less an issue. Cultural and political relevancy (in song) pale in comparison to the eternal battle between love and heartbreak, and every songwriter takes up his or her pen/computer keyboard to join the battle at some point in their careers. Cursive/Good Life frontman Tim Kasher’s solo debut takes a cinematic approach to the concept, crafting an ambitious, indie rock/orchestral song cycle that chronicles the journey from hopeless romantic to lost, wilderness-bound adult.
"Self-absorbed" isn't how you typically describe good art, or good people for that matter, but Tim Kasher has made a nice career for himself as an exception to that rule. Whether in the guise of Cursive's caustic, thrashing emo or the perpetually evolving Good Life's intimate confessionals, Kasher and the central figure in his songs have often seemed like the same guy: someone all too aware of his own flaws but almost entirely unsympathetic; someone condemned to doomed relationships who'd likely still be miserable without anyone else's help. As he states on The Game of Monogamy's "Strays", "writers are selfish, writers are egotists/ I'm afraid I'm as bad as it gets"-- and that's this record's love song.
The Game of Monogamy opens with an aural banana peel in the form of a very ‘90s Disney orchestral intro. The well-intended red herring builds for nearly two minutes before breaking into an incredibly strained, bleak vocal from Tim Kasher—frontman of acclaimed emo acts Cursive and the Good Life—a vocal that turns out to be the chorus. And an awfully grating one at that.
For those of us in our mid 20s, it may seem like Tim Kasher has been thrashing around forever over issues of responsibility and commitment—at least since the overwrought chamber drama of Cursive’s Domestica, where grownup issues were handled with adolescent fatalism. Ten years later, as kids weaned on his band’s music begin to face these kind of adult problems themselves, Kasher’s solo debut finds him plugging away at these same themes, without any appreciable increase in sophistication. In the early years of the aughts, Cursive and Bright Eyes acted as Saddle Creek’s hysterical standard-bearers, shaping searing, often-whiny angst into high-concept packages.
Review Summary: Tim Kasher is Tim Kasher is Tim Kasher. Always.Tim Kasher and his bandmates in Cursive have been a respected force for thirteen years now in punk circles and, more importantly, indie circles as well. This indie respect is important to consider when analyzing some of Kasher's career choices, including his side project The Good Life and his new solo album, The Game Of Monogamy.
Sometimes it’s hard to break out on your own. Omaha native and close friend of Conor Oberst Tim Kasher has been trying since The Good Life, which was intended to be a solo project but turned into another indie rock band he fronts (the other is Cursive). An album of his own didn’t come to fruition until The Game of Monogamy, and what a game it is, to hear Kasher describe it.