Reviews The Good Life Album of the Year

The Good Life

Album of the Year

Tim Kasher manages to juggle two well-respected bands without taking a noticeable break. The strident noise of Cursive may sound much harsher than the soft melodies of The Good Life, but most of the songs are on the same subject of unsuccessful relationships. The Good Life makes that disappointing love theme into a year-long affair on their third full-length album, Album of the Year. Each track on the album represents a different month for a total of twelve tracks.

At some points, Album of the Year is similar to the grandeur of Bright Eyes' Lifted. Kasher is more conservative with his instruments in his relatively small band compared to Conor Oberst's full-blown orchestra. Kasher still manages to capture the remarkable full sound without being over-the-top. The album is kind of like an indie pop version of Vivaldi's "The Four Seasons." Each season is captured by this collection of songs: the sprightly liveliness of spring, the haziness of lazy summer nights, the haunting drabness of autumn, and the starkness of winter.

Kasher recounts an entire relationship on the title track for the month of April. Each mood in the song is dictated by the instrumentation. The beginning of the relationship is epitomized by an acoustic guitar and Kasher's narrative voice; as the relationship progresses, layers of instruments are added. All of the sudden, the song gets a sultry Latin feel with the exotic drums and the distinctive strums to recall the excitement he felt when he thought he found "the one." When Kasher reminisces about the phone calls he used to receive from his former lover, all the instruments come in together to play a gleeful bright melody. Despite the failed relationship, Kasher and his lover laugh at the mice in their former dwelling; he repetitiously joyously sings "we started laughing til it didn't hurt" while the band plays that previous jovial melody.

"Night and Day" is driven by a drunken Parisian melody. This is not a song about a failed relationship, but a rather successful one based on the couple's great sorrows. A late summer's night in June is represented by "Under a Honeymoon." It includes a slide guitar, djembes, and congas to present a laidback and lazy atmosphere. The song concludes with the dramatic entrance of a trumpet and a flugelhorn. "You're No Fool" is a smoky cabaret number with a distant flugelhorn and trumpet resonating in the background with Kasher's intense crooning. Once again, the song ends with a climatic entrance of the distorted guitars and the rough drums.

The lively piano, the eerie organ-esque keyboards, the abrasive guitars, and Kasher's characteristic wailing in "Notes in His Pocket" create a sound similar to Cursive. While the coldness and loneliness of December are captured in the heartbreaking duet "Inmates" that features former band mate Jiha Lee. Lee's vulnerable voice makes the situation presented in the song so real. All the songs are chaotically mixed in the final track, "Two Years This Month," while accompanied by an acoustic guitar; after which Kasher briefly sings in a cappella about the last time he spoke to a previous lover.

"I'll write the album of the year," sings Tim Kasher to his former lover on the title track. Is Kasher too ambitious? With his lovelorn lyrics, he seems to be overly ambitious to fall in love with "the one," but The Good Life's third album has the potential to be, at the very least, one of the albums of the year.

9.4 / 10Nancy
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9.4 / 10

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