Cursive - Burst And Bloom (Cover Artwork)
Staff Pick


Burst And Bloom (2001)

Saddle Creek

Good lord. I didn't think it was possible at all for Cursive to get any better than they already were, but leave it to Tim Kasher and company to make me eat my words. Following up on 2000's highly successful [and incredibly rocking] "Cursive's Domestica" as well as The Good Life's [Tim's side project] "Novena On A Nocturn," this EP finds these boys from Omaha further exploring the dark side of life, love, and rock and roll.

After receiving critical success with "Domestica," where do you go next? "Sink To The Beat" is the band's diatribe against the competitive, sink-or-swim attitude of independent music and labels. With lyrics like "This unique approach to start an EP / intended to shock, create a mystique / a cheap strategy, a marketing scheme / building awareness for the next LP" [I could type out the whole song, but you get the picture], it really shows Tim Kasher's frustration with the music business. The song's angry melody climaxes with Tim screaming "Hit song / let it burst and bloom." It fucking rocks.

"The Great Decay" harkens back lyrically to their second album, "The Storms Of Early Summer," which focuses on the struggle. It's a really upbeat song musically, which is ironic since the lyrics leave no hope whatsoever. Gretta Cohn, the band's newest member, does a wonderful job of tying in her cello into all the songs on the EP, especially this one.

"Tall Tales, Telltales" finds semi-new guitarist Ted [ex-Lullaby For The Working Class] taking the mic for the first time for the whole song. It is a contrast with the previous song, having the same type of message -- man cannot beat the world -- but ending on an up note: "Hold on sailor, tighten the cables / steady the vessel / it's a good life if you don't weaken / hold on, hold on."

The rock plows on with "Mothership, Mothership, Do You Read Me?" This song seems to be about loss and trying to find your way back to something you once had. I've always been amazed by Tim Kasher's ability to tell a story with his lyrics, and he doesn't fail me here. Again, the cello peeks in at some of the most hard rocking points, adding an entirely new dimension to the band's sound. The track concludes with a creepy distorted guitar, voice, and drum machine beat. I'm not quite sure what Tim is saying [as it's not printed in the lyrics] but he sounds upset about it.

The rock draws to a close with "Fairy Tales Tell Tales," a song that would have fit in perfectly among the songs of pain and divorce on "Cursive's Domestica." It rocks as hards as anything they have ever done.

While Cursive might be a bit disillusioned with the record industry on any level, as evidenced in the first song, this EP will do its job with no questions asked: it definitely will build awareness for the next LP, and will probably get even more people to buy their back catalogue. It's almost painful to think of music this good as a marketing tool, but when it comes to the brass tacks of it, that's what almost everything is. In any event, you will be doing yourself a great disservice if you do not pick up this release immediately. The band has taken the best parts of Cursive and The Good Life and ran with them. I assure you that they won't drop the ball.

The Great Decay