Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Way-back Wednesday

For this week's Way-Back Wednesday, we're going to time travel all the back to the dark days of Aug. 22, 2006. Yup, that long ago.

That was the day Cursive released its stellar "Happy Hollow," a disc I was unable to review that week because I was on a vacation. So, now's the time.

The album is singer/songwriter Tim Kasher's unbridled, unhinged and cathartic take on religion. And unlike the band's previous masterpiece, "The Ugly Organ," "Happy Hollow" finds Cursive sounding brighter, with warmer vocal lines, brass and the occasional strings, dissimilar to the minor-chord- and cello-heavy "Organ."

All 14 tracks exude a toughness, but yet a vulnerability. Each tune feels like it could break apart at any moment, yet the whole thematic album sticks together. Kasher's fractured voice, screaming and moaning about fear and disillusionment, yet never preaching, keeps it all going, never letting such a large IDEA get out of hand. It's a punk-heavy, emo song cycle that never whines, an impressive distinction.

This is, without a doubt, one of the best records of this year and you'll more likely find it somewhere in the teens on my annual year-end Top 20 Records of the Year story.

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