Wednesday 12 September 2018

Cursive - Vitriola

Labels: Big Scary Monsters/15 Passenger
Formats: Vinyl/CD/Tape/Digital
Release Date: 05 Oct 2018


1. Free To Be Or Not To Be You And Me
2. Pick Up The Pieces
3. It's Gonna Hurt
4. Under The Rainbow
5. Remorse
6. Ouroboros
7. Everending
8. Ghost Writer
9. Life Savings
10. Noble Soldier/Dystopian Lament

The final quarter of 2018 looks set to be just as exciting musically as the (soon to be) previous three and a new record from Omaha, Nebraska's Cursive is a pretty big deal. "Vitriola" is the band's eighth full-length, in a career spanning over two-decades and is their first in six years. It's due for release on October 5th via their own 15 Passenger label and via the UK's Big Scary Monsters. Cursive are heading out on a US tour in October & November following the release of "Vitriola" and already have a big tour booked along the West-side of the US for January & February of next year.

“Vitriola” is less an album of songs and more a drama set to music. Free To Be Or Not To Be You And Me is dark in everything from the lyrics to the melodies and the instrumentation. It sits somewhere between rock and punk, with old pop sensibilities and indie adding to the mystique. I hear some similarities to Nightmare Of You (Brandon Reilly of The Movielife’s other band) during Pick Up The Pieces, which is danceable but in a oddly menacing way. Twisted emotion and post-punk darkness exist during It’s Gonna Hurt, where Cursive look both inward and outward to describe the state of things at the present time. Obviously, it’s born out of the upheaval that’s plagued the US over the last couple of years and it focuses on a certain place and time, at least that’s how it seems anyway. 

Under Rainbow is littered with keyboards and cello that really brings it to life. Both instruments are present throughout the album but here they seem to bring the record out of the dark. I’m a sucker for well-written ballads featuring stirring piano and Remorse is definitely one of those. When the guitars and the strings kick in it’s filled with blurry eyed majesty that brings a whole new complexion to Cursive’s music. The band’s feelings are then distilled into six-minutes of noise-rock and electronica on Ouroboros. If you listen to the lyrics carefully it will no doubt make you raise a smile, especially if you’r of the cynical disposition. If Brand New wasn’t so fond of slow-mo on ‘Deja Entendu” then they probably would have sounded a bit more like Cursive do on Everending (I apologise for using that comparison, but it sort of makes sense to me). I’m basically trying to say that it’s a pretty uplifting song. 

Another thing that’s uplifting about the record is the melodies, especially those employed during it’s second half. The guitar melody that graces Ghost Writer proves that point and is only a small part of a song that grows in catchiness as it goes. They mourn the dissolving of happiness that’s brought on by money during Life Savings and the sentiment makes perfect sense given the narrative of the album. It ends with gloriously sampled noise. Cursive end with Noble Soldier/Dystopian Lament, which is like sinking into the warm arms of acceptance. Acceptance that while this world may be fucked, there’s not a lot you yourself can do apart from to try and be as good as you can to those few people that you call friends and loved ones. 

“Vitriola” may be so far removed from the usual harsh and heavy music that features on this small blog but it actually shares a lot more with that than you’d think. The imagery and unease that it creates is palpable while the musicality and production means it has wider appeal. Maybe not the sound of the end of the world then but the sound to end a year that’s been tough on a lot of people and in a lot of ways. Cursive once again tug at the heartstrings of even the coldest heart.

Stream Under The Rainbow and Life Savings via the 15 Passenger bandcamp page below, where "Vitriola" is available to pre-order on all formats:-

UK/Europe pre-orders can be placed via Big Scary Monsters here -

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