Review: Cursive- Vitriola (Big Scary Monsters/15 Passenger)

Posted: October 1, 2018 in Reviews

Active since the mid 1990s, Cursive have been a prolific band, releasing numerous LPs and EPs. Yet I’m wholly unfamiliar with this band. This record, though, makes me want to delve into their back catalog. The band has been described as emo-tinged post hardcore, but I think that does them a disservice. They’re much more than that. Sure, there are elements of emo and post-hardcore. But also, Cursive are an incredibly creative, orchestral indie rock band. The arrangements are thick and non-traditional, with piano, cello, chimes, violin and synths. The judicious use of noise adds a darkness to some of the tracks. Some may say that some of the tracks get too close to a progressive rock sound, like many overblown rock bands were doing in the 70s. And there’s some truth to that – the arrangements are big, the songwriting complex. But these songs are just plain good. The edginess and roughness keep it from getting too wanky.

Right from the dark, noisy opening of “Free To Be Or Not To Be You And Me” you can tell this is something different, something out of the ordinary. The anger in the vocals is palpable, the vitriol spewing forth (thus the album title). The pounding rhythm of the song is repeated in the snare drum on the second track, “Pick Up The Pieces.” “Under The Rainbow” is a hard-hitting track with a unique chord progression that gives occasional relief from the intensity, like a tiny bit of hope amidst the hopelessness. “Ouroborous” is a favorite. It reminds me of the late, great The Fire Show, of Chicago, and has an evil circus feel to it. “Life Savings” starts with screeching guitars and tired sounding female vocals, providing an aching sense of pain. And the closer, “Noble Soldier Dystopian Lament,” seesaws between angry, dissonant pounding from the whole band and a thin, sad, dreamy sound. This is adventurous, creative stuff.

Check it out here: https://15passenger.bandcamp.com/album/vitriola

PS

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