Hailing from the Great Plains, Nebraskan post-hardcore rock band Cursive has released “I Am Gemini,” its seventh album of eeriness and punk.
This new record, however, is a concept record. As “Rolling Stone” reported last week, it is based around the story of twins Cassius and Pollock, who were separated at birth. “I Am Gemini” goes on to investigate the character of each twin: are they one in the same? Is one twin evil while the other is good? It’s an interesting enough backdrop for a concept album, although the album only has a few shining moments among a track list that seems incoherent and lost.
This incoherence is, to some extent, just a quality of Cursive. There’s a distinctive arrangement to its songs, including embellished guitar lines and a sort of interlocking between said guitar lines and the percussion. It’s abrupt — it easily breaks up traditional melody lines for a lyrical emphasis. This is done particularly well on early Cursive records, namely “The Ugly Organ.”
It’s rather dismaying on “I Am Gemini.”
“Twin Dragon/Hello Skeleton” and “Wowowow” are a juxtaposition of this trait. The former is almost permissible, given its expression of two different entities. “Wowowow” has moments of being hardcore, reminiscent of a sort of quiet piano fade out. My dismay with these types of tracks comes in the irritation and jaggedness these songs have — the songs become increasingly hard to follow, and this story of the twins begins to diminish.
Even though some of the musical concepts in “I Am Gemini” are very scattered, there are bouts of good, well-defined hardcore and punk influence that are executed nicely throughout the record. “The Sun and Moon” opens with a driving, melodically-inclined hardcore riff that pays homage to hardcore greats like Refused or F—ed Up. Unfortunately, these moments coincide with more emo-rock moments, such as on the dreary closer, “Eulogy for No Name,” or the opener, “This House Alive.” They are actually reflective of a motif in pop-punk that seemed popular not so long ago, whereas lyrics were emphasized and sung with a defeated demeanor (the band Brand New are professionals at this). Regardless, Cursive’s take on these songs is kind of dull — you might be more inclined to skip over these tracks instead of focusing in.
“I Am Gemini” is clearly not a strong point for Cursive, though there is a niche crowd into this artsy-pop-punk stance that they perpetuate. For Cursive to put out another good record, it ought to learn to focus and fully develop its musical and lyrical ideas.