Happy Hollow

Happy Hollow

4.3 3
by Cursive
     
 

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Having somewhat successfully escaped from the catacombs of post-divorce, lead singer Tim Kasher set his sights on a new problem for Cursive's next record: religion. Happy Hollow, comprised of "fourteen hymns for the heathen" -- a table of contents is given in the closing track -- candidly discusses problems with Christianity and its

Overview

Having somewhat successfully escaped from the catacombs of post-divorce, lead singer Tim Kasher set his sights on a new problem for Cursive's next record: religion. Happy Hollow, comprised of "fourteen hymns for the heathen" -- a table of contents is given in the closing track -- candidly discusses problems with Christianity and its current manifestation in American society. Each song on Happy Hollow is sung from a different perspective, be it the priest's or parishioner's, and explores ideas of sin, untruth, and those murky areas where the right answer, the right thing to do, is anything but obvious. The album's not dismissing God or the idea of one ("Retreat!," aka "the church of doubting Thomas," is in fact addressed to God), but it does demand that people take control over their own lives and think for themselves ("You're not the chosen one/I'm not the chosen one" he sings repeatedly). It's a plea for progression, to not lose ourselves among unreasonable arguments given by hypocritical spokesmen; it's a call for the return to the Enlightenment, where the scientific process and rational thought rule. This is a touchy subject, though, and Kasher's aware of that, so while he certainly doesn't censor himself, he's also careful not to commit the same transgressions he's accusing the Church of. He doesn't moralize or pontificate ("I'm not saying who's right/I'm just saying there's more than one way to skin a religion," he admits in "Rise Up! Rise Up!," otherwise known as "hiding in confession"), but he does raise questions about the presumed righteousness and intolerance he believes are all too prevalent. It's confrontational but not dogmatic; he makes his point but he doesn't set it in stone. The thing is, even though it deals with such a formidable topic, Happy Hollow is still a whole lot of fun. It isn't anger or disillusionment so much that propels the record as it is bright horns and vocal lines with allusions to third-wave ska and even indie electronica. Cursive haven't reinvented themselves -- the heavy guitars and conversational, intelligent lyrics and the occasional pained scream are all still there -- but Kasher's vocals are less raw and the band's attention to strong, interesting phrases moves the album into musical territory that Cursive have usually passed over for something more angsty. It's unbelievably effective, with accessible, emotional melodies and provocative lyrics that bounce and roll against the synth chords and brass section. It's the Wild West in 2006, complete with gospel, new wave, and rock influences -- it's a dissection of modern society and politics, of human fear and blindness, a kind of indie musical theater, with a full cast and plotline. It's Cursive at their finest, challenging and smart and absolutely riveting, a group that's been able to stay true to itself and its past while still being able to mature, and finally, finally sound as if they're having a little bit of fun doing it.

Product Details

Release Date:
08/22/2006
Label:
Saddle Creek
UPC:
0648401009422
catalogNumber:
94
Rank:
317813

Related Subjects

Tracks

Album Credits

Performance Credits

Cursive   Primary Artist
Dan McCarthy   Piano
Mike Mogis   Organ,Synthesizer,Dobro,Guitar,Chimes,Theremin,Sampling,Mellotron,Omnichord,Guitar (Baritone)
Ted Stevens   Guitar,Vocals,Group Member
Tim Kasher   Guitar,Accordion,Vocals,fender rhodes,Group Member
Clint Schnase   Drums,Group Member
Nate Walcott   Trumpet
Matt Maginn   Bass,Group Member
Dan McCarthy   Piano
Sarah Benck   Vocals
Johnny Thomason   Tuba
Korey Anderson   Vocals
Dean Haist   Trumpet
Brian Morrow   Tenor Saxophone
Scott Vicroy   Baritone Saxophone
Nancy Vogt   Trombone

Technical Credits

Mike Mogis   Producer,Engineer,Loop
Ted Stevens   Engineer
Tim Kasher   Engineer
Zack Nipper   Artwork
Nate Walcott   Horn Arrangements
Ian Aeillo   Engineer

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Happy Hollow 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 3 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
As a huge Cursive fan, I wait for any Tim Kasher release with baited breath. I was of course disappointed when I found out that Greta had left the band, but expected them to go back to their pre-cello, Domestica-esque sound for this record. Instead, they threw in a horn section that, though working fairly well in some parts, seems like an afterthought in most songs. It almost seems like they thought they needed a gimmick in order to sell the songs, something I wouldn't have expected from this band. Some of the songs are actually really good ("Flag and Family", "Bad Sects"), but most lack the flair that we've come to expect from Kasher thus far. While Domestica and The Ugly Organ worked well as a whole, unraveling a story as they go along, keeping with a familiar theme, Happy Hollow seems disjointed, a mishmash of songs that don't form a bigger picture. Overall it's not a bad album, and the production alone is worth the listen, but for die-hard Cursive fans, I think it comes up a bit short.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago