The first few notes of Cursive’s new album I am Gemini had me worried. I heard a more subtle less angsty flow of music and thought that maybe Tim Kasher had lost the teeth gnashing unapologetic anger that I am used to. Well, by the end of the opening track “This House is Alive” I realized that this was not at all the case. Maintaining the elements of Cursive that I have always found alluring, the song came complete with the incessant howling, purposely out of tune guitars, and biting wit that drew me to the band damn near 10 years ago.
I am Gemini is everything a Cursive fan would want in a new release. Just as prolific as Domestica and just as off-putting as The Ugly Organ, this album also possesses a brilliant theme: the duality of an individual. Often associated with split personality and the demon within, the idea of Gemini is consistent throughout the release and stated in a bold and brash manner. Both the lyrics and the music support this idea with their mix of harsh and beautiful coupled with an unnerving feel throughout the entire production.
One of the things that will divide listeners is the creepy factor of the album, which is pretty far up there. It’s not quite the macabre uncomfortable experience of the pAper chAse, but it’s close. Effects of things that go bump in the night, murderous whispers, and off-key screaming supply plenty of ways to alienate other people in the room, all of which emerge very early in the album (see “Warmer Warmer” for specifics).
I do enjoy the creepshow elements of the album but it is the stark contrast that makes I am Gemini great. Loud laments give way to more catchy and bouncy pop conventions which descend directly back into the dark. It’s designed to hurt and sooth your ears, the music an illustration of the dichotomy of the lyrical content. It really seems like this was an album Cursive was meant to write, the idea of Gemini just fits with their already existing style. Dark and light, sun and moon, angels and demons comparisons drive the music and the result is something that is pretty remarkable.
Of course there is always that element of a healthy cynicism of his own music present in the album as well. Mimicry being the most ulcerous form of mockery, rewarding him handsomely (“Drunken Birds”). Like most of great Cursive albums, there are a few tracks that stand out (“Twin Dragon/Hello Skeleton”, “Wowowow”, among others), but the overall blend and commitment to the theme are the most important elements; something that I am Gemini does very well.
Fans of Cursive will definitely want to pick this up as it highlights what they do so well. They’ve taken a theme and reflected it perfectly with both the music and the lyrics, made an album that will tear directly at your insides, and contrasted ugly and beautiful in ways few artists are able.