Cursive – Vitriola
15 Passenger Records (2018)
By Chuck McCammon
For those already familiar with Cursive, you are going to love this 2018 album of dark musical complexity and existential ruminations, the first from the Omaha, Nebraska band since 2012’s I Am Gemini.
Vitriola has everything listeners desire from primary songwriter/vocalist Tim Kasher. There’s personal awareness of triumphs and failures. His humble blood drips over every second. And the entire band emphasizes the songs’ shifting motifs brilliantly, just like they’ve always done.
Though it’s been six years since the band’s last record, fans of previous Cursive releases like the excellent Domestica and The Ugly Organ will not be disappointed. There’s a sense of familiarity here, like cruising at an even keel in uncertain seas. Lyrically, Kasher is in inspired, prime form. His words reflect us having lost our way, while heartbreakingly falling in step with torturous dictators and self-serving foes. Gemini twins can be both evil and good. Vitriola is split. While listening, you will feel like you are running towards chaos, grabbing at dreams while entertaining demons. Socially knocking on the door of “we’re fucked if we don’t change.”
First single “Life Savings” is the most immediate, accessible cut on the record. A bass and drum groove gloriously chug along while Kasher sings/shouts his frustration on the perceived value of money. A gently strummed acoustic and cello middle interlude erupts into further moments of fabulous angst and fury. The tension and release is timed perfectly and accentuates the song’s intentions.
Change does not seem close at hand on this album. Clarity brings along its pals pain and hope. We just don’t want to die being remembered as an asshole, nor should we work for one. – (7/10)
A version of this review also appeared in Northern California publication Savage Henry.