Cursive - The Ugly Organ (Cover Artwork)


The Ugly Organ (2003)

Saddle Creek

I will admit this before I even start my reviewing of this record: I am not a big Cursive fan or expert, although before I heard this, I had listened to a few songs off of "Burst And Bloom" and "Such Blinding Stars".

This album begins with an introductory song titled "The Ugly Organist". It's a useless intro I feel, only the sound of an organ playing and chatter (with possibly a scream or two) in the background. It's only 53 seconds and fails to contribute any asset to the album.. "Some Red Handed Slight Of Red" officially kicks off the record with a nice, mid-paced rock beginning. When Tim Kasher begins to sing in that unique fashion of his, the pace quickens ‘till the end. This is a good song, but at under 2 minutes, is disappointingly short. The song fades into "Art Is Hard", which I'm sure all the diehard Cursive fans have enjoyed already. A bit more melodic but less aggressive, it is still in the same vein and quality as the opener. Up next is "The Recluse", a cute mid-paced number that is the mellowest song so far. The percussions on this song are interesting, but the rather high-pitched chorus fails to grab my attention. Following this, it's time for another short instrumental number "Herald! Frankenstein", which just sounds to me like a bunch of cello, static and weird vocals (hence, filler). "Butcher The Song" ensues, and is a slow but explosive song. There is a nice screaming part at the end, and the abrupt finish followed by the organ and voice clip adds a cool touch. "Driftwood" is a mellow song that fails to deliver. However, I must say that track 8, "A Gentleman Caller", is a great, chaotic tune with Kasher unleashing out insane vocal work (probably my favorite song off this album). The song becomes much more melodic at the end, but succeeds in staying fresh and interesting. What to say about "Harold Wheathervein?" Well, good for the most part, although the odd 1-minute filler finish really spoils the song. It reminds me of the music they play on "Hockey Night In Canada". You'll have to hear it yourself to see why I'm making that comparison. An uncomfortable mess of chords start off "Bloody Murderer", but it gets better when the pounding guitars and drums roll in. The song is about a ghost; the sad violin and sudden breaking of glass before the chorus definitely makes me picture a murder in process (Colonel Mustard in the ballroom with the chandelier?). Up next is "Sierra", a vivacious and upbeat song that, not unlike most of the material here, doesn't arouse my curiosity. By the time the song fades, I'm actually a little glad that I'm down to the closer, "Staying Alive". Oh boy. Well, what else can I say but total disappointment? If Cursive had compressed the song (a lot) instead of trying to turn it into an epic, perhaps I wouldn't of stopped the record after Kasher stops singing (alas, four minutes of uninspired instrumental boredom ensues- the only bands that can truly hold my interest for that kind of stuff are Modest Mouse and Built To Spill). We're talking about a 10 minute song here! On a 38 minute CD! That seems a little bit overwhelming to me....

In general, "The Ugly Organist" grabbed my attention for the first 2 or 3 songs, but I was indifferent to almost every track afterwards, in exception to the standout "A Gentleman Caller". I'm sure that these guys are tight musically and creatively, but this album did not get to me. I didn't actually hate any of the 10 songs aside from "Staying Alive"and the 2 useless under-a-minute segments (I don't consider them tracks), but I felt they were under par compared to songs like "Drop The Beat" and " Ceilings Crack". If I had to describe this record in a few words, I'd say "slightly above average".