As the prolific leader of Cursive and The Good Life, Tim Kasher specializes in sardonic, literate lyrics that seldom flinch from brutally unflattering self-awareness. Over the course of Cursive’s catalogue in particular, Kasher seems no more at home than when sinking his hooks into seething anguish, from the dissolution of his marriage (2000’s Domestica) to the soul-sucking realities of life in a small town (2006’s Happy Hollow). It speaks to his talent as a songwriter that Kasher can convert that into excellent music instead of insufferable material.
Considering his past, it’s unsurprising that Kasher crafted his bleakest album when left to his own devices. The title of his solo debut gives it away: Kasher has frequently explored sexual politics, but here, he careens into some of the most uncomfortable places he’s ever explored. Beneath the snappy hooks and horn melodies, “Cold Love” is a grim catalogue of a moribund relationship. A similar sound shrouds an especially discomfiting trip into his id, “Bad, Bad Dreams.” Other songs, like “The Prodigal Husband” and “There Must Be Something I’ve Lost,” have fewer accoutrements to soften the blows.
But it all works. Thirteen years and 11 albums into his career, it’s never been more obvious that misery suits Tim Kasher. It’d be good if things improved for him, but not if it meant he’d have to stop writing such good songs.