REVIEW: TIM KASHER – THE GAME OF MONOGAMY (2010)
Today marks the addition of Katia Piza, a Minneapolis rabble-rouser now calling the North Side of Chicago her home. We first met during Bonobo, and soon discovered a combined love for anything music-particularly Rhymesayers Entertainment. Welcome to Mezzic, Katia! (John)
I was introduced to Tim Kasher in 2001 when I was handed a mixtape (remember those) with “The Competition” on it. However, this wasn’t the usual, “I’m giving you this mixtape to woo you.”, compilation. It was indeed a breakup mix. Followed in queue were songs by Duncan Sheik, Radiohead and Joni Mitchell. “The Competition” was the one song that broke my heart. I fell in love with Tim Kasher right then and there, in my bedroom between sobs.
Tim Kasher (Cursive and The Good Life) has come out with his first very anticipated solo album, The Game of Monogamy. Marking his thirteenth album in 11 years, Tim continues to write about broken relationships, his father, and the woes of trying to be a grown man. The album is emotionally charged and is not afraid to take you along for the ride. Filled with theatrical and sensuous instrumentation the album opens with, “Monogamy Overture” which starts out with simple strings of violin, and woodwinds, then crescendos into a blissful state of almost melancholiness with a hint of the far east. The next track, “A Grown Man” starts with Kasher singing acapella, “I am a grown man how did this happen?/ They’re going to start expecting more from me, but this is all I am/ I am a grown man I don’t know what I want”. It builds up into a rock feel with chanting “Gotta be a grown man” over and over at then end and transitions into “I’m Afraid I’m Gonna Die Here” perfectly.
Musically this album is a bright light from Kasher usually does, perhaps this is what he had in mind when he wanted to make The Good Life a solo project? He jumps from simplistic violin blends to upbeat rock songs, “I’m Afraid I’m Gonna Die Here”, “Just Don’t Get Caught” and “Cold Love”. While Kasher keeps the entire album lyrically simple, as he usually does in his songwriting, I am happy to say he wasn’t afraid to play with tempo and multi-instruments on this album. With “Strays” Kasher strips it down to just the acoustic guitar. This album you will take you through the whole dramatic and heartbreaking experience of meeting someone, falling in love. Mid through the appropriately titled, “Surprise, Surprise” states what it’s like at the beginning of the end of the relationship.
“There Must Be Something I’ve Lost” starts out with a regretful tone on the violin setting you up for lyrics “I just wanna have sex with all my old girlfriends again/I swear it’s the familiarity I miss/ aww fuck it/ just the typical male conquest.” He hits it spot on with, “Those drunken nights passed out on the laptop/looking up old acquaintances/ there must be something I’ve lost/ something I’ve forgot/ that keeps me digging up these corpses/it’s a midlife death wish.” Let me ask you, how many times have you passed out drunkenly looking for some validation from your past?
“Just Don’t Get Caught” found on the Cold Love EP, opens with an old school violin solo and quickly jumps into a crescendoing upbeat song keeping that haunting old school folk violin. Then all of a sudden he changes the time signature and you are slowly pulled away and just as quick brought back into the upbeat. Kasher does this several times in the album, which is part of the magic.
When I saw Kasher perform at Reckless Records in Chicago (3161 N Broadway) the rows of vinyl were filled with people from underage college kids to early thirty-somethings to hipsters drinking tall boys of PBR to (which the Reckless Records staff didn’t seem to mind) couples and singles. When Kasher played, “There Must Be Something I’ve Lost” and “The Prodigal Husband” I looked around to see several wet eyes being nonchalantly wiped away. When you get a record store full of Tim Kasher fans you are in good company to release the emotions his music evokes.
The album as a whole is consistent with the the title of the album. Every track is immersed with personal lyrics and complete in it’s storytelling. There are a few songs that are guaranteed to pull at your heart strings-especially if you have an ex who you used to listen to any number of Kasher’s many projects with. But like any Kasher project, you will always get Tim writing about what it’s like to be Tim. Fortunately he writes in such a way for everyone to understand, be it cynically or lustfully. He will continue to sing about drinking, failed relationships, that big brown leather chair and the lonesome life of trying to figure out what it means to be a man. Lyrics have always been a strong point for Kasher and sometimes a confusing one to his listeners, however, this album will give you the sense of “I’ve been there. I know exactly what he’s talking about.” Kasher has successfully come out with his first solo album, he nails the complexities of growing up and trying to be in an adult relationship on the head. We love you, Tim but we don’t want you be to happy for if you are where will that talented songwriting go?