Over the past two decades, Cursive has become known for writing smart, tightly woven concept albums where frontman Tim Kasher turns his unflinching gaze on specific, oftentimes challenging themes, and examines them with an incisively brutal honesty. But the band’s eighth full-length, Vitriola, required a different approach — one less rigidly themed and more responsive as the band struggles with existentialism veering towards nihilism and despair; the ways in which society, much like a writer, creates and destroys; and an oncoming dystopia that feels eerily near at hand.
Which brings us to 2018 and Vitriola. For the first time since Happy Hollow, the album reunites Kasher, guitarist/singer Ted Stevens and bassist Matt Maginn with founding drummer Clint Schnase, as well as co-producer Mike Mogis (Bright Eyes, M. Ward, Jenny Lewis) at ARC Studios in Omaha. They’re joined by Patrick Newbery on keys (who’s been a full-time member for years) and touring mainstay Megan Siebe on cello.
Vitriola is out on the 5th October 2018 via Big Scary Monsters (UK/EU) and 15 Passenger (US).
Vitriola is a wonderfully anthemic release, ten tracks of introspective rock with wonderful passages of melody and sonic heaviness delivered by the vibrating bass. All of this is capped off by rich vocals that are built on lyrics that resonate deeply with anyone aware of the worldwide issues that plague humanity right now.
It’s an album filled to the brim with foot-tapping tunes that keep things nice and fresh by injecting pace and heavier twin-guitar riffs and rhythm. Free to Be Or Not to Be You and Me, It’s Gonna Hurt and Ouroboros show a fantastic level of musical genius with wonderful flourishes of melody that touch the soul.
Then you have the likes of Remorse and Life Savings, a pair of sombre tracks that leaves you with a desolate feeling as though you’ve just witnessed a horrifying act of violence.
Vitriola creates such a strong range of emotions with each track and there is an underlying desperation for it to be over and for you to be free from Cursive’s grip. They’re holding tight though and ensure you’re not leaving until Noble Soldier/Dystopian Lament has torn you apart with its powerful vocals and haunting melodies.
Cursive have a heart-filled album on their hands here. One that many will find an effective and emotionally taut listen.
Cursive – Vitriola Full Track Listing:
1. Free to Be Or Not to Be You and Me
2. Pick up the Pieces
3. It’s Gonna Hurt
4. Under the Rainbow
8. Ghost Writer
9. Life Savings
10. Noble Soldier/Dystopian Lament
Cursive - Vitriola (Big Scary Monsters/15 Passenger)
The Final Score - 9/10