Gothic themes inspired Cursive's concept record
If the age of the playlist has rendered the album obsolete, someone forgot to tell Cursive. On Tuesday (February 21), the long-running American indie-rock band will put out its seventh full-length release, and it’s a doozy. I Am Gemini is that rarest of projects these days: a concept record. Its 13 tracks tell the story of twin brothers, Cassius and Pollock, who were separated at birth but reunite after the death of their parents. Without giving away too much, let’s just say the boys don’t exactly hit it off, and a vicious battle for dominance ensues.
The album contains clues that this struggle is actually taking place in the mind of one person, and that the twins represent two sides of a single coin. Reached at Cursive’s home base of Omaha, Nebraska, singer and multi-instrumentalist Tim Kasher says he’d prefer that the listener sort it all out.
“I’ve always been pretty open about any writing I’ve done,” he says. “But for something like this, when it’s such an allegory, I find that going into ‘Who are these people, actually?’—there’s just a lot of interpretation at this point. I think it’s probably kind of good that way, because I’m hoping that’s how people can respond to it, either more literally or more figuratively.”
Fair enough, and those who don’t care to delve that deeply can just enjoy the music, which, as you might expect given the record’s dark story line, is forceful and dramatic. Numbers like “Twin Dragon/Hello Skeleton” and “Double Dead” find Cursive reaching back to its posthardcore roots for their knife’s-edge guitar tones and stop-and-go rhythms. It’s up to Kasher to carry the plot forward, and while he acts as the narrator and each of the twins, his emotive vocals never cross the line that keeps rock from spilling over into musical theatre.
“I had to pull the reins back to a place where it was tasteful,” he says. “I love musicals myself, but I also recognize that, at most, it should maybe be a form of a musical or suggest a musical, but really shouldn’t be a musical, at least for this album. I really had to take that into consideration while I was doing the vocal performance a lot. I refrained from doing different voices for different people. I wanted to make sure it was an album properly, and not let these loftier, grander ideas get too out-of-hand.”
Kasher reveals that the concept for I Am Gemini was knocking about in his head for at least 15 years before he finally woke up one morning and decided to start acting on his inspiration. The album’s gothic themes gave him an opportunity to take a break from writing about the various miseries of romantic love, which have often been the topics of Cursive’s songs and which shaped his 2010 solo debut, The Game of Monogamy.
“Those kind of intimate, sexual relationships we have are probably like a wheelhouse, so to speak, of what I’m most curious about addressing,” Kasher says. “But, yeah, I think you shouldn’t just do that every time and all the time. When you get away from it, you can build up a couple years of new information, you know?”
Cursive plays the Media Club on Saturday (February 18).