Cursive: Mama I’m Swollen

Music Reviews Cursive
Cursive: Mama I’m Swollen

Growing up is never easy

On Mama I’m Swollen, as always, Cursive’s Tim Kasher anguishes. Over dirty, frenzied riffs and in swirling electronic dirges, he anguishes—then more on beds of bell and saxophone. Later, he anguishes through whispered breakdowns of broken falsetto. And as the band has recently picked up former Engine Down drummer Cornbread Compton, Kasher now anguishes, too, over skittering time signatures. This is fine, as Mama spotlights the sad loss of innocence that befalls men who must grow up, which is obviously, well, anguishing. Kasher has lamented similar machinations of time before—like life’s “great decay” (on Burst & Bloom) and adulthood anxiety (on Domestica)—but here he really owns it, declaring “tearing down mass upward mobility” as his “manifesto destiny.” The song that supports that claim (“Caveman”) presents the Neanderthal life as a less greedy time, and it’s just one place Kasher looks for an out; others include animalism, hedonism and head-clearing memory loss. But mostly Mama comes filled with soul-aflame adolescent angst that generates lines like “I am the joke of existence / I am no one” with guitar squall to match.

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