Cursive
Happy Hollow


4.0
excellent

Review

by Jared W. Dillon USER (118 Reviews)
September 7th, 2006 | 37 replies


Release Date: 2006 | Tracklist


Often times in music “evolution” is a term thrown around very loosely. A band like Linkin’ Park or Limp Bizkit may consider an evolution in their sound, the adding of a string section in one song, or maybe a slight change in the melancholy riff based assault of such bands. In my opinion this is not “evolution”, as some rock critics like to refer to it as (Rolling Stone). Evolution is something gradual and extremely transforming to a band. An excellent example of my idea of evolution is the band Talk Talk who had a beginning as a modest new wave band and by the end of their career had became a full fledged jazz rock group. This definition of evolution is important to understand because with their 5th LP “Happy Hollow” Cursive has completely evolved from their early beginnings as a post hardcore band. “Happy Hollow” is a loose assembly of brass horns, political angst, and pure emotion. Lead vocalist Tim Kasher is still screaming but the highly personal material of “Domestica” and “The Ugly Organ” are no longer present and instead like fellow Saddle Creek group Bright Eyes Cursive’s latest release takes a political slant. With a change of focus lyrically also comes a change in the musical structure of Cursive. Doing away with most of their droning melancholy post hardcore sound Cursive have instead jumped head first into the realm of indie rock. While long standing Cursive fans may have a problem with this, in my opinion the “evolution” has come at the perfect time and once again proves Kasher and co. are miles ahead of their contemporary peers when considering the thought they put into their releases.

The first thing any revisiting Cursive fan will notice when listening to “Happy Hollow” is the loss of the band’s string section (in the form of recently departed Gretta Cohn) and its replacement with a horn section. While at first this may make an avid Cursive fan think “Why has my favorite band decide to go ska?” the horns are actually used much more tastefully than say a band like Less Than Jake may use them. Kasher has taken his ideas of stage based music, found on “The Ugly Organ” and gone full force into it. Cursive with “Happy Hollow” have basically created a post hardcore “musical” that is captured on record. The inclusion of horns greatly increases the stage like feel Kasher has attempted to get across lyrically in Cursive’s past two albums. Cursive experiments with a blend of genres on “Happy Hollow” stretching from post-hardcore, to electronica, to what can only be described as swing. “Bad Sects” one of the more experimental tracks on the album, blends together the softer sound of Kasher’s side project The Good Life with the more aggressive sound of Cursive. All in all, with “Happy Hollow” Cursive is attempting to break out of their shell as a band that just goes from loud to soft, and are creating songs that do not have such dynamically varied instrumentation as their previous endeavors. While Cursive’s old sound can still be found in remnants on “Happy Hollow” they are basically telling the world with this album that they are ready to move on from their modest start.

Going hand in hand with this musical idea, Kasher’s lyrics on “Happy Hollow” introduce us to a range of characters from sexually frustrated priests to sexual experienced little girls. Instead of using himself to paint out his feelings on various issues, Kasher has created a village of morally dysfunctional individuals who illustrate what Kasher morally feels is wrong with his nation’s current state. While he certainly isn’t saying anything that hasn’t been said before, his way of saying it is like always extremely heartfelt as well as literally interesting. “Big Bang’s” attack on intelligent design supporters is creative and excellently laid out and is just one of the examples of the great lyrical prowess Cursive has and still shows on “Happy Hollow”

Musically the album isn’t exactly innovative but it is not boring either. With the lack of Gretta the band has decide to experiment with more attempts of showing the band’s individual strengths (“guitar solos” are featured on many tracks) instead of repeating the muddy and cluttered full band approach that was found on “The Ugly Organ”. While the band did add a horn section, like I said before this new element to Cursive’s sound is used subtly and excellently which can mainly be seen in the middle of the record. On tracks like “Dorothy Dreams of Tornados” various horns are used to accent the music rather than be lost in the shuffle of the driving guitar and bass. Basically, Cursive is still the band painting their songs only now they have a few extra colors in the form of horn instruments to help assist the band in their relentless drive.

With “Happy Hollow” Cursive has once again proved they are the most interesting band on Saddle Creek and one of the most versatile bands in the indie rock scene. Without falling trap to over experimentation (Trophy Scars’ “Alphabet. Alphabets.”) Cursive has with “Happy Hollow” successfully changed their sound extremely but still created an album which rivals their best. Unlike the “evolutions” of lesser bands, Cursive proves that they are a band that can successfully genre-hop with their music yet still retain their ability to make interesting and most of all, good music.



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user ratings (332)
Chart.
3.5
great
other reviews of this album
Travis Montgomery (3.5)
Instead of his usual optimism, Kasher instead reverts to a pre-teen hating the world for no reason....


Comments:Add a Comment 
pixiesfanyo
September 7th 2006


1223 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Finnnnnnally finished.

pulseczar
September 7th 2006


2385 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

cool review, nig. This is my favourite album of '06 so far, even though this is basically the first Cursive album I've heard in entirety.

pixiesfanyo
September 7th 2006


1223 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Kayo Dot is better.



-_\\

Kyle
September 8th 2006


667 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

This is a really excellent review, it gets my vote.



I havn't been able to give this a rating yet, but i'm thinking it will be 3.5 or a 4. Although I kinda prefer their previous efforts, i'm glad they're trying something different, and it did work quite well for the most part.

BenJammin
September 8th 2006


12 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Very good review, though I hate this album. It may be Cursive evolving, but I personally feel that it lacks a lot of the elements that made their sound so good before.



And I'm still bitter about them losing Gretta.

morrissey
Moderator
September 8th 2006


1688 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

This is a very good album, probably the one I enjoy listening to the most out of all their albums. The first half is especially strong.

BringHomeTheBacon
September 8th 2006


248 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Enjoyed the review. Just bought the album, I'll see how I like it. I will say that "Big Bang" is awesome.

Happymeal
September 8th 2006


330 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I really really like this and it's probably my favorite Cursive album. Peeps who didn't appreciate their first few releases might get into this one as there's significantly less angular guitar work and Kasher's whiny singing. Also, the breakdown in "Retreat!" has Broken Social Scene written all over it.

cbmartinez
September 9th 2006


2525 Comments


Great review, Jared. I forgot that this came out. I need to pick it up, and hopefuly catch them on tour.

Little Man being Erased
September 11th 2006


87 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I need this album real bad.

slack
September 11th 2006


249 Comments


No strings? Ah ... why? It worked so well!

eh, I might pick it up still. Sounds promising.

Iai
Emeritus
September 12th 2006


3553 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5 | Sound Off

I'm not hugely sure what to make of this record as far as it fits into Cursive's catalogue. When I'm actualy listening to I love it. But looking back on it afterwards, it seems to be desperately missing a song like "Art Is Hard" or "The Recluse". The only truly memorbale part of the album is 'There was a big bang once, but the clergyman doesn't agre....'

BringHomeTheBacon
September 15th 2006


248 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Wow, I'm liking this a lot. The lyrics are awesome throughout this album. "At Conception" has been stuck in my head for a while now.

Riley12988
September 28th 2006


109 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Rocks my socks. And they're playing Nashville in a couple weeks.

whiteminority
October 5th 2006


74 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Just got this yesterday, I'm very impressed with the change from the Ugly Organ to Hapy Hollow. I really love how the horns are used throughout the album.

IsItLuck?
Emeritus
October 5th 2006


4939 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

The change is definitely noticed between the two albums. It seems as if their music is becoming less "gloomy?" i guess the word is. They play the new stuff really well live and the old stuff is even better. I really can't rate this album though....it would be between a 3-4..

I Was A Kaleidoscope
October 14th 2006


3 Comments


This album is so good.
Definitely one of my favourites this year.

lunchforthesky
January 6th 2007


1039 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

[quote=Pixiesfanyo]

in my opinion the “evolution” has come at the perfect time and once again proves Kasher and co. are miles ahead of their contemporary peers when considering the thought they put into their releases[/quote]



That pretty much sums them up.

Iai
Emeritus
January 17th 2007


3553 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5 | Sound Off

Having now listened to The Paper Chase, this album makes a lot more sense.

samthebassman
February 17th 2007


2164 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Iam currently chasing this sucker.



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