And you thought Tim Kasher sounded fragile when his crackling whisper
fronted Cursive. Coupled with Cursive's six-string crunch, Kasher's
wavering warble seemed to fit both were susceptible to fits of
anger and sadness that might disappear even before they really began.
Kasher's side project, The Good Life, however, indulges his tortured
emotings to the extreme. Can one man really feel this sorry for
It's not just that Kasher sounds tearful with every note he sings.
It's his lyrics, where he's a saint continuously wronged. "I'm not
searching for self-improvement," he sighs on "The Beaten Path," one
of Black Out's stronger cuts. Then he utters the unforgivable
line, "Here and there I come across an old acquaintance/ Some old
flame, some old burn victim." In the world of The Good Life, this is
The pessimistic cuts take the term "lovesick" literally. "Some
Bullshit Escape" wraps with the diminutive singer cooing, "I don't
know where you are/ I bet I'll never find you out/ There's a lot of
that goin' 'round." In Cursive his lyrics were just as defeatist, but
the backing music seethed with a hostility that allowed his musings
to feel justified. The sparse, flexible arrangements on Black
Out make his words, which wear out their welcome after only a
handful of tracks, the main attraction.
The backing music can be arresting, though. Unobtrusive electronic
flourishes appear on occasion, as do cellos, accordions, vibraphones
and an oboe. Even when layers of multiple instruments coat the basic
melodies, the songs still have room to breathe. The music is
masterfully arranged subtle, but with a powerful presence.
What ultimately defeats this album is Kasher himself. A starkly
beautiful cut like "After O'Rourke's, 2:10 a.m.," which hides a
mournful slide guitar deep in the background, normally would kill on
its own. But when he throws it into a track listing that includes a
song called "I Am an Island" (no shit!), it's obvious that he's just
crying wolf. With a little variety this album could be a real
monster, but Tim Kasher would rather establish himself as a