The Good Life - Help Wanted Nights (Cover Artwork)
Staff Pick

The Good Life

Help Wanted Nights (2007)

Saddle Creek

I've always been more of a fan of the Good Life than Cursive, which I have always seen as a more straightforward rock band than Tim Kasher's other project. Despite saying the Good Life would be going on a good long break, Kasher came back three years after Album of the Year with Help Wanted Nights. Album of the Year was tremendously well-received, and for good reason. The concept of the album as well as its lyrics and musicianship were all outstanding. So how does Help Wanted Nights hold up? With little surprise, it holds up well, so well in fact that I'd venture to say it's the best Good Life album yet.

Kasher has always been one to embrace concept albums, and this time around things are no different. Not surprisingly, alcohol plays a large role in crafting the story arc. Help Wanted Nights is the soundtrack to a screenplay of the same name written by Kasher. It loosely revolves around the story of a man whose car breaks down in a small town where he spends the week and gets to know the locals by hanging around the local watering hole. As a soundtrack, it isn't as linear or literal as Album of the Year, which is okay since many of the songs stand up fine on their own.

Help Wanted Nights isn't as immediately depressing as Album of the Year, although I still think I'll use Kasher's lyrics to try to steer my children away from alcohol while in high school. At times Kasher's voice sounds too innocent to be singing about the down and out, such as in "Your Share of Men" when he remarks, "I'm sure you've had your share of men / I'd be honored to be one of them." Kasher's voice is what stands out the most on this album. It's smooth and easier to listen to than much of his other work. Meanwhile, the music is a perfect company and for the most part is clean and full-sounding rock with elements of folk and country thrown in. Standout tracks include "On the Picket Fence" and "Keely Aimee," the latter of which spins a tale of barroom romance as Kasher sings, "see, Kelly, I love your suffering like gravity loves a stumbling drunk." These quasi-love songs prove to be the best of the album -- hopefully not because I can relate to them.

For what many consider to be a side project of Kasher's, the Good Life have proven once again that they can very well be considered their own band.