Mama, I’m Swollen isn’t as musically impressive as The Ugly Organ, necessarily as much of a concept as Happy Hollow, as musically dark as Domestica, but there’s a bit of a rhythm to it, particularly with the title track, “I Couldn’t Love You” and “From the Hips,” where Tim Kasher sings, “we’re all just trying to play our roles/in a play that runs ad nauseam.” The latter is an excellent complement to album closer “What Have I Done?” – the move that seals that pitiful image of an artist recreating pain for audience appeasement that Kasher’s so perfected (“I spent the best years of my life waiting on the best years of my life/so what’s there to write about?”).

More interesting about this record is Kasher’s constant comparison of himself to an animal, a caveman, any primitive creature at hand. It’s a step up from his artist’s woes, perhaps the “why” to his “what,” and it’s written all over the record – most clearly on “Caveman,” a declaration of his independence from family life and the tradition of “upward mobility.”

Whereas earlier songs may have shown frustration with an inability to adapt in love and life, this record in full is sort of a mark of acceptance, both of the inevitability of age and that unwillingness to adapt. Sure, a few of these tracks are musical filler, but there are some beauties, too, and it’s a strangely peaceful listen as far as Cursive is concerned.

Grade: B+



Mama, I’m Swollen is currently available.