A new Cursive CD is always a welcome event for the band’s fans, not just because it means there’s fresh music to hear and enjoy, but because once it releases an album, it’s never quite a sure thing that there will be a next Cursive CD.
For years now, the band has generally finished touring in support of its latest CD and then gone on an open-ended hiatus.
In recent years, those hiatuses have seen the band’s songwriter and singer/guitarist Tim Kasher do outside projects – something that probably only increased questions about when and if another Cursive CD would be in the cards.
First came Kasher’s band project, the Good Life, which has released four albums, the most recent of which was “Help Wanted Nights,” in 2007. Then in 2010, he released his first solo CD, “The Game of Monogamy,” followed last year with the EP, “Bigamy: More Songs from the Monogamy Sessions.”
Don’t look for that approach to change now that Cursive has released its latest CD, “I Am Gemini.” The band has been on tour much of the year and is doing a string of headlining shows this month.
And while it certainly seems like all is well with Cursive, Kasher said the group isn’t planning anything major beyond the touring.
“We do one record at a time,” he said in a late January phone interview. “We don’t really make plans further than that.”
And Kasher is fine with not making long-term commitments about the band.
“It just offers us a freedom,” he said. “We don’t ever feel bound to the project. So we really only come together when it feels right. So sometimes it will take time and we get away from it for long enough and then we get re-energized about it again. And I, ultimately for myself, I don’t really plan on doing a Cursive record until all of a sudden I’ll get excited about an idea. But then I still have to get some kind of picture in my head, an idea of what it’s going to sound like and what it’s going to be like … . So it always seems like it’s incredibly natural every time we come back together to do one.”
And for “I Am Gemini,” Kasher definitely had an idea for the album.
In a nutshell, the new CD tells the story of Cassius and Pollock, twin brothers who were separated at birth and went on to pursue separate paths of good and evil.
They reunite later in life, and their opposing paths result in a struggle for the soul that gets played out with a variety of other characters weaving in and out of the story.
The idea of having the twins as main characters, Kasher said, gave him a way to express his thoughts on what he sees as a very universal subject on “I Am Gemini.”
“It’s kind of like a very classic battle of good and evil, I suppose,” he said. “My own interpretation of it is kind of somewhat looking over one’s life and addressing whether or not you chose the right path, I guess, chose to be a good person or if you kind of followed those personal inner demons and kind of ended up being foul.”
The musical structure of “I Am Gemini” reinforces the idea that the CD has a story line. Songs segue easily from one to the next and there is a musical flow that makes the CD feel like a single work, even though songs can definitely be enjoyed individually as well.
It is, however, a heavier, harder rocking album than the six previous CDs Cursive has released over a career that dates back to 1995, when the band, which currently includes Kasher, bassist Matt Maginn and guitarist/singer Ted Stevens, formed in Omaha.
If “I Am Gemini” rocks harder than most Cursive albums, it is also very listenable and has its share of songs with inviting hooks, such as the snappy “Warmer Warmer,” the punchy “The Sun and Moon” and the slightly chaotic “The Cat and Mouse.” Even “Drunken Birds” and “This House Alive” – two songs that get a bit thunderous at times – are also catchy.
The band’s choice of a producer for “I Am Gemini” – Matt Bayles – was meant to help achieve a harder hitting sound, Kasher said. Bayles has produced heavy rockers Mastodon, Norma Jean and The Sword.
“Like very early on when we decided amongst ourselves it would be fun to do something that was louder and more rocking,” Kasher said. “I guess he (Bayles) came to mind.”
The rocking straight-forward production is also helping the new songs on tour.
“These translate better than some of our previous albums,” Kasher said. “In other words, what we recorded is pretty close to the same versions that we practiced in the practice space.”