“Influence has written this song / I wish I could write one / Just some sad song.”
— Tim Kasher, 1996
“I’m writing songs to entertain / but these people–they just want pain.”
— Tim Kasher, 2004
“I’m singing for sympathy / I’m singing for your charity, oh / I’m singing so you’ll pity me.”
— Tim Kasher, 2015
What to expect from a Tim Kasher-helmed project in 2015 should be no surprise: songs of wrecked relationships, cynicism, and self-sabotage set against a loose metaphor: carnival, board game, calendar, circus–take your pick.
Kasher has worked this vein like a diligent miner for almost 20 years now. And, by and large, he’s done so successfully. His best albums were infused with energy, whether vitriolic, yearning, or bitterly sad. When that energy ebbs, so do the returns, which yields albums like Everybody’s Coming Down. There’s little energy to be found in Kasher’s delivery as he plows pro forma through a familiar setting of down-and-out carnival workers and kids realizing how cruel the world can be. Which is a shame because, musically, the album has strong moments. Kasher even manages to pull out some solid lines and imagery (“I used to want future perfect / Now all I want is past” or “Now I’m old and I know that The Troubadour’s green room / Only looks big from the floor of the venue”), but on the whole, Everybody’s Coming Down just feels wan.
Whether with Cursive, The Good Life, or solo, Kasher’s albums depend on him to sell them. The self-abasing cynicism that flows through his pen only works if he’s in character. But if the actor can’t muster the energy to pretend the scene is real, how is the audience supposed to believe it?