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Cursive misses the mark with "I Am Gemini"

By Bryan Menegus, Columnist

 

For suburban kids, discovering Cursive's music occupied the window of time when adulthood was impatiently awaited and far from understood, when one's first cigarettes were first smoked (followed by vomiting or, at best, a much longer walk home from school than usual to air out the sweatshirt your sibling lent you), and when one's first relationships bloomed and eventually fell apart. By the time you've hit 20, you're probably a smoker or you aren't; you're jaded or at least wiser in the ways of romance; Cursive just doesn't connect to a first-time listener. But for the same reason, there's something comforting in listening to those old records as a fan—living in a much, much smaller world where lyrics about broken hearts and feeling hopeless made more sense than anything—years later, managing to cut through the affected layers of cynicism and irony.

 

Maybe these reactions aren't as general as I think they are, and maybe this is bordering on autobiography, but it occurred to me in writing this that the very first piece I submitted to the Hofstra Chronicle—almost exactly three years ago—was a review of Cursive's ‘Mama, I'm Swollen'. That record, which was lacking, had been the follow-up to the equally lacking ‘Happy Hollow'. And in spinning through ‘I Am Gemini' over and over, in the hopes of finding the perfect angle to approach this effort, to hopefully pan through the silt for nuggets of blissful, raw-throated gold, that I was once again coming up empty-handed.

 

The pretensions of the record's concept (two fictional twins, Cassius and Pollock, reuniting after being separated at birth), and the lyrics' splatter-canvas of mixed metaphors and mythologies (Judeo-Christian, Greek, Roman, and fairytales, clumsily intermingled), as well as the packaging itself, which presents the lyrics as a play to denote which of frontman Tim Kasher's lines belong to which character (and without which the record is incomprehensible) give ‘I Am Gemini' the air of being as needlessly muddled as this sentence. Like a crappy arthouse flick, ‘Gemini' is a puzzle which, even when unraveled, is thoroughly unfulfilling.

 

I've been forthright about my expectations for this band—more than anything, I want to connect past to present. I want Cursive to mean as much to me as they once did. But the baggage of Kasher's predilections have grown too heavy. Like those high school relationships, my affections for this band were based on convenience disguised as something more. It's said that if you love something, you set it free. I owe ‘Gemini' a debt of thanks for letting me finally part ways.

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