Cursive
Mama, I'm Swollen


3.0
good

Review

by Jared W. Dillon USER (118 Reviews)
March 10th, 2009 | 110 replies | 23,336 views


Release Date: 2009 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Cursive again.

0 of 1 thought this review was well written

'Mama, I'm Swollen' is an anomaly, presenting Cursive simultaneously succeeding at their new sound while falling into pitfalls of being redundant. Most of the criticism is easily lodged at lyricist Tim Kasher. The head lyricist attempts for grandiose themes to go along with the grandiose instrumentals of 'Mama, I'm Swollen'. The problem with this approach is as witty and sarcastic as Kasher attempts to make himself his true attraction lyrically has always been his bare honesty. Oddly 'Mama's' strongest tracks in lyrical terms are ones that regurgitate the romantic narcissism that made the group rivals to their Saddle Creek peers. 'What Have I Done?' and 'I Couldn't Love You' are lyrical concepts that have been present throughout both Cursive and The Good Life's discographies. The truth is somewhere along the line Cursive musically matured and that maturity is what remains attractive about this record.

Praising Cursive for their innovation on this record is definitely easy. The mix of Cursive's post-hardcore heritage and influences from new wave groups like The Cure makes many of the tracks here succeed. 'Donkeys' is as ominous as it is catchy. The aforementioned 'I Couldn't Love You' seems like an easy follow up for 'From The Hips' for the group's next single. On that note the more accessible tracks on this album may spurn curiosity of Cursive's bid for mainstream attention. Not to say it is intentional at all, throughout the record Kasher remains even darker and unforgiving than fellow label mate Conor Oberst. Though through the new set of industry rules that groups like The Shins and even Bright Eyes have achieved for indie groups one wonders when Cursive will wedge itself in the public conscious. Perhaps the arrangements on this record are to out there for the average indie rock fan and the attention towards being orchestrated while accessible is what truly makes tracks like 'Mama, I'm Satan' and 'We're Going To Hell' succeed.

Where does 'Mama, I'm Swollen' not succeed? First off, the identity crisis that Cursive seems to be going through makes it seem like The Good Life should have no reason to exist. While 'The Ugly Organ' was bombastic to the point of annoyance Cursive's new record stutters due to its inability to settle on any likeness at all. 'Let Me Up' and 'Caveman' may not be bad tracks, but their quirkiness and stoic arrangements make them feel like complete mistakes in terms of the track listing. When Cursive first revealed many of these tracks signs pointed toward the group moving back into a more stripped down electric group. What has resulted is something much different instead 'Mama, I'm Swollen' seems to be Cursive's most studio produced record yet. Sadly, that isn't a positive as Cursive's main strength has always been the power behind Kasher's voice and this record seems to be doing everything it can to not rely on that.

'What Have I Done?' is different. 'What Have I Done?' gives Cursive fans what they want when they hear Cursive. Not to say that artists must satisfy their fans, but if Kasher wanted to fully make up for those that hated 'Happy Hollow' one would think 'What Have I Done?' would be the answer. Breaking the track down it simply relies on the overused soft to loud dynamic that Cursive has been implementing since their beginning. Kasher mumbles a tale of futile realization over the track and when the guitars finally crash at the end you feel like for once on this record you can fully relate to its composer. He's much older than he was on the embarrassingly public 'Domestica' and much more concise than on the sprawling 'Ugly Organ', but as he is attempting to say throughout 'Mama, I'm Swollen' he is still the same. Kasher still embraces his flaws and while that may not work to the record's advantage when it does Cursive hits hard as ever.



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user ratings (264)
Chart.
3.4
great

Comments:Add a Comment 
mynameischan
Staff Reviewer
March 10th 2009



17920 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

i like this a looot. 'let me up' is my favorite. good review.

tombits
March 10th 2009



3469 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

i still need this, "I Couldn't Love You" is catchy as fuck.

KritikalMotion
March 10th 2009



2261 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Its good. pretty much all i can say about it. bit dissapointing.

This Message Edited On 03.10.09

JumpTheF**kUp
March 10th 2009



2710 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I am undecided about this. I really like the last track, but the first half varies in quality a lot.

gaslightanthem
March 10th 2009



5209 Comments


i agree with this review, there's some good songs but

Lucid
Contributing Reviewer
March 10th 2009



7021 Comments


"I Couldn't Love You" is awesome. The rest varies from mildly interesting to bland.

Digging: Shabazz Palaces - Lese Majesty

IsItLuck?
Emeritus
March 10th 2009



4926 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

this review is about right

Digging: Joyce Manor - Never Hungover Again

jrowa001
March 10th 2009



8750 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

i really like this album. its their best since Domestica.

DFelon204409
Emeritus
March 10th 2009



3995 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I agree with you on all points Jared but don't feel like the redundancy or Kasher's weakness effects my enjoyment of this album at all.

robin
Emeritus
March 10th 2009



4241 Comments


i really really like this, but it's probably just on account of me having skipped to it straight from domestica.

Athom
Staff Reviewer
March 10th 2009



17196 Comments


This is pretty good, although the lack of energy on some of the songs makes Kasher's self loathing a little overbearing at times. This Message Edited On 03.10.09

botb
March 10th 2009



9527 Comments


Do want this and The Ugly Organ

NortherlyNanook
March 10th 2009



1285 Comments


I agree with you on all points Jared but don't feel like the redundancy or Kasher's weakness effects my enjoyment of this album at all.


This is basically how I'm feeling here.

pixiesfanyo
March 10th 2009



1222 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

i dunno. i've been listening to basically everything he has done since The Ugly Organ, so to see this and the last Good Life be so bland and unexciting pains me.

though i really dislike TUO.

Electric City
Staff Reviewer
March 10th 2009



15727 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I really like this. I'm giving a 4 now but its more like a 3.8. Catchy stuff

Digging: Joyce Manor - Never Hungover Again

Relinquished
March 10th 2009



24424 Comments


This is excellent.

Skyler
March 10th 2009



1084 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

album is pretty meh

gaslightanthem
March 10th 2009



5209 Comments


pretty much

AliW1993
Contributing Reviewer
March 10th 2009



7313 Comments


I'll definitely check this out. I've never listened to them but I like the songs on their myspace. Good review.

handoman
March 10th 2009



2386 Comments


album is really good



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