Cursive: Vitriola (15 Passenger) Review | Under the Radar Magazine Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
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15 Passenger

Oct 10, 2018 Cursive Bookmark and Share

There is a subset of Cursive fans for whom 2003’s The Ugly Organ remains one of the most vital and visceral indie rock offerings this side of the millennium. Pretty cool for said subset to scroll through the preemptive press on Vitriola and see a few mentions of it. Part of that is just staffing: Cursive frontman Tim Kasher is rejoined here by original drummer Clint Schnase. Arrangement, too: cellist Megan Siebe, who has toured with Kasher on solo outings, provides the first recorded cello to grace a Cursive record since that landmark 2003 effort. To top it off, Saddle Creek house producer Mike Mogis is back after sitting out a few releases (although the album is being released on the band’s own label, 15 Passenger).

Kasher is quick to point out that this one’s a little off-the-cuff with regard to any overarching conceptual bent. It’d be hard to outdo the actual libretto and good-and-evil-twin-brothers stuff that drove I Am Gemini (2012), after all, and these present times provide ample fodder for Kasher’s particular breed of discontent. For all his thematic turns, that breed remains pretty well-defined, musically. Kasher and crew are coming up on 25 years, and dependably go back to the well for new expressions of that caustic but tender heart.

One can count on the musicianship: the dissonant and ultimately Baroque-with-a-capital-B guitar interplay of “Ouroboros,” the descending vocal hook over textbook Cursive start-stop rhythms on “Under the Rainbow,” the Halloween guitar lines and spooky theremin dressing up “It’s Gonna Hurt” (is that the most concise song-title summation of Kasher’s whole thing to date?).

And yeah: it’s always gonna hurt. “Pick up the Pieces” is a plea not to surrender to deflated self-efficacy in our current political milieu (“They shit the bed/We apologize”). “Life Savings” is the anticapitalist screed (“The more you comply/The more you subsist”). And “Ouroboros” finds Kasher self-consciously eating his own tail with regard to artistry in general, just as he did onyesThe Ugly Organ. “The writer will obsess over success/Success is like the carrot on a stick/Once the writer finds it’s just a carrot/The writer takes a shit all over it.” Textbook Kasher, you might say. Meanwhile, the same tune sees Kasher at his loosest, maybe softened by that quarter-century of output. Or maybe it’s just tour van jokes. “Society has got a heinous case of crabs/Everybody’s got an itch to scratch.” May each of you find satisfaction. (

Author rating: 6.5/10

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Average reader rating: 6/10


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