Music

Tim Kasher: The Game of Monogamy

Longtime Cursive frontman ventures out on his own for the first time, delivering mostly stereotypical Saddle Creek fare in the process.


Tim Kasher

The Game of Monogamy

Label: Saddle Creek
US Release Date: 2010-09-28
UK Release Date: Import
Amazon
iTunes

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. The lyrical content mirrors this discomfort, as Kasher adjusts his twentysomething discontent to his coming middle age. Both his ideas and the ways he tries to communicate them sound a bit egotistical and unsociable. Because of his delivery, you come away from listening feeling Kasher is either trying a little too hard to put on a face, or he takes himself entirely too seriously these days.

Like most Kasher-helmed projects, The Game of Monogamy is a loose narrative about becoming an aloof adult. The subject matter in many ways mirrors the grief-stricken nature of The Ugly Organ. The instrumentation, however, is more closely related to the recent Cursive efforts, with thick saxophone and other brass powering multiple parts of the record. There are some new wrinkles to the Kasher sound, too, like "Strays". The song will win points with the locals for name-dropping Jackson Street, but the delivery feels all too familiar to "classic"-period Bright Eyes. Most of the songs on The Game of Monogamy are pretty pop-oriented, though, so despite some grim subject matter a lot of the album has more snap and classic FM radio traits than most of Kasher's previous work.

All too often, Kasher's harsh vocals are just not up to par here, though. He was never going to win any awards for straight-up vocal chops, but never before has his voice felt so ill-suited to deliver certain vocals. Never is it more apparent than "There Must Be Something I've Lost", which sounds like Nick Cave doing an awfully tongue-in-cheek parody of Yoni Wolf. Not only are the lyrics awkward in an off-Broadway kind of way, but Kasher comes off as pathetic in a way that makes me wish he'd just set the mic down rather than empathize with him. And while "No Fireworks" proves Kasher is continuing to diversify his production oeuvre, it stirs an equal amount of doubt as to Kasher's ability to write interesting songs anymore.

There's not a song here that feels useful outside the context of another chapter in Kasher's discography, and thus ultimately doesn't seem likely to inspire much emotion outside of the core Saddle Creek crowd. If this teaches us anything, it's that Kasher is at his best when his ideas are being bounced off of others, tweaked into the services of a band rather than his vision alone.

4

Music

Books

Film

Recent
Film

The Dance of Male Forms in Denis' 'Beau travail'

Claire Denis' masterwork of cinematic poetry, Beau travail, is a cinematic ballet that tracks through tone and style the sublimation of violent masculine complexes into the silent convulsions of male angst.

Music

The Cradle's 'Laughing in My Sleep' Is an Off-kilter Reflection of Musical Curiosity

The Cradle's Paco Cathcart has curated a thoughtfully multifarious album. Laughing in My Sleep is an impressive collection of 21 tracks, each unapologetic in their rejection of expectations.

Music

Tobin Sprout Goes Americana on 'Empty Horses'

During the heyday of Guided By Voices, Tobin Sprout wasn't afraid to be absurd amongst all that fuzz. Sprout's new album, Empty Horses, is not the Tobin Sprout we know.

Film

'All In: The Fight for Democracy' Spotlights America's Current Voting Restrictions as Jim Crow 2.0

Featuring an ebullient and combative Stacey Abrams, All In: The Fight for Democracy shows just how determined anti-democratic forces are to ensure that certain groups don't get access to the voting booth.

Music

'Transgender Street Legend Vol. 2' Finds Left at London "At My Peak and Still Rising"

"[Pandemic lockdown] has been a detriment to many people's mental health," notes Nat Puff (aka Left at London) around her incendiary, politically-charged new album, "but goddamn it if I haven't been making some bops here and there!"

Music

Daniel Romano's 'How Ill Thy World Is Ordered' Is His Ninth LP of 2020 and It's Glorious

No, this is isn't a typo. Daniel Romano's How Ill Thy World Is Ordered is his ninth full-length release of 2020, and it's a genre-busting thrill ride.

Music

The Masonic Travelers Offer Stirring Rendition of "Rock My Soul" (premiere)

The Last Shall Be First: the JCR Records Story, Volume 1 captures the sacred soul of Memphis in the 1970s and features a wide range of largely forgotten artists waiting to be rediscovered. Hear the Masonic Travelers "Rock My Soul".

Music

GLVES Creates Mesmerizing Dark Folktronica on "Heal Me"

Australian First Nations singer-songwriter GLVES creates dense, deep, and darkish electropop that mesmerizes with its blend of electronics and native sounds on "Heal Me".

Music

Otis Junior and Dr. Dundiff Tells Us "When It's Sweet" It's So Sweet

Neo-soul singer Otis Junior teams with fellow Kentuckian Dr. Dundiff and his hip-hop beats for the silky, groovy "When It's Sweet".

Music

Lars and the Magic Mountain's "Invincible" Is a Shoegazey, Dreamy Delight (premiere)

Dutch space pop/psychedelic band Lars and the Magic Mountain share the dreamy and gorgeous "Invincible".

Film

What 'O Brother, Where Art Thou?' Gets Right (and Wrong) About America

Telling the tale of the cyclops through the lens of high and low culture, in O'Brother, Where Art Thou? the Coens hammer home a fatalistic criticism about the ways that commerce, violence, and cosmetic Christianity prevail in American society .

Music

Alexander Wren's "The Earth Is Flat" Wryly Looks at Lost Love (premiere + interview)

Singer-songwriter Alexander Wren's "The Earth Is Flat" is a less a flat-earther's anthem and more a wry examination of heartache.

Music

Big Little Lions' "Distant Air" Is a Powerful Folk-Anthem (premiere)

Folk-pop's Big Little Lions create a powerful anthem with "Distant Air", a song full of sophisticated pop hooks, smart dynamics, and killer choruses.

Music

The Flat Five Invite You to "Look at the Birdy" (premiere)

Chicago's the Flat Five deliver an exciting new single that exemplifies what some have called "twisted sunshine vocal pop".

Music

Brian Bromberg Pays Tribute to Hendrix With "Jimi" (premiere + interview)

Bass giant Brian Bromberg revisits his 2012 tribute to Jimi Hendrix 50 years after his passing, and reflects on the impact Hendrix's music has had on generations.

Jedd Beaudoin
Music

Shirley Collins' ​'Heart's Ease'​ Affirms Her Musical Prowess

Shirley Collins' Heart's Ease makes it apparent these songs do not belong to her as they are ownerless. Collins is the conveyor of their power while ensuring the music maintains cultural importance.

Books

Ignorance, Fear, and Democracy in America

Anti-intellectualism in America is, sadly, older than the nation itself. A new collection of Richard Hofstadter's work from Library of America traces the history of ideas and cultural currents in American society and politics.

By the Book

Democratizing Our Data: A Manifesto (excerpt)

Just as big tech leads world in data for profit, the US government can produce data for the public good, sans the bureaucracy. This excerpt of Julia Lane's Democratizing Our Data: A Manifesto will whet your appetite for disruptive change in data management, which is critical for democracy's survival.

Julia Lane

Reviews
Collapse Expand Reviews



Features
Collapse Expand Features

PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.