Review Summary: Instead of his usual optimism, Kasher instead reverts to a pre-teen hating the world for no reason.
From what I can see here, Kasher has lost it; and not in the good way like Patton, Zappa, and Mangum have. On Happy Hollow
Tim has lost his optimism that he displayed so beautifully on Domestica
and The Ugly Organ
; in place we have an album full of desperation and dashed hopes with no sight of the silver lining present on both previous albums.
, Kasher’s not-yet-perfect emotive vocals display the story of two lovers and their fights, struggles, and disputes. Later in an interview Kasher stated that despite all the hate, disappointment, and cheating, “Pretty Baby” and “Sweetie” are faced with, they stay together; something that can’t be said for Kasher’s own marriage. The Ugly Organ
has an even more distinct redeeming quality to it. Despite living amidst the depression, murder, lies, and hate of life, The Ugly Organist proclaims that he’s “Staying Alive.” That beautiful aspect redemption is nowhere to be found on this album. Instead we are left with a completely depressing album, at least from my point of view.
While a redeeming aspect of the album is the exceptional musicianship, it just doesn't have enough strength to save the it from the desolate and depressing lyrics. A vast majority of the album is made up of solely of anti-religious tones and though not as pronounced, a few instances of anti-military themes. I’m all for people expressing their opinions and views, but at least back them up with some experience or something! Take “Big Bang” for instance; Although it is probably the best song on the album musically, its lyrics are just depressing! “There was this big bang once, now we're endlessly drifting in space”
. So basically there’s no God and we have no real reason for existence. Tim, if you want to demolish one road, at least give us a hint to where the next road is instead of just leaving us at a dead end.
Though, if you can get past the horrendous philosophy throughout the album, you might find something to enjoy. With the departure of Gretta Cohn, the woman with the Cello, the woman who made [i]The Ugly Organ[I/] so exceptional, Cursive is left somewhat empty. On Happy Hollow
Kasher recruits Nate Walcott to fill in this Cello-shaped hole with his magnificent horns. The addition of Walcott’s horn arrangements add a flair to the album that set it apart from many of the other alt/indie albums of the time. Catchy accessible songs aren’t a hard thing to find on this album, “Dorthy at Forty“, “Bad Sects“, and both the opening and ending hymnals
being some of my favorite. Though he doesn’t nearly stand up to Cohn, Walcott does a better than good job of filling her shoes.
If you’re looking for some inventive, catchy music from a tried-and-true indie band along with some the introspective musings of a horribly depressed 30-some year old teenager, then this might be just the album for you. However, if you’re looking for something to learn, or want something to take away from this album then look elsewhere, because you’re not going to find any of it here