Emo-rockers, Cursive have returned to the scene with their sixth studio album, Mama, I’m Swollen. After a three-year hiatus the band is back with a valiant attempt at progression, that unfortunately has failed to attract the kind of following we saw with The Ugly Organ or Happy Hollow. Nonetheless, Mama, I’m Swollen is classic Cursive: an intricate web of instruments and lyrics, all woven around one angst-ridden, emo-tastic thread.
While some may argue that redundancy will be the proverbial straw that breaks this camels back, since when is more of a good thing bad? It is true that Cursive takes the listener down the same paths on Mama that they did on previous records but in this case quality has not been compromised. In fact, Amazon.com wrote, “On their sixth album, [Cursive] proves yet again why ‘after all these years’ they remain one of the most exciting and inventive rock bands today.” All the pieces of a great rock album are there, they just need to be celebrated. Pitchfork.com gave a review of the records strengths saying:
Musically, Cursive’s range is subtler here compared to their previous albums, but there are some satisfying occasions when everything pulls together nicely. Shifting time signatures keep the more straightforward songs from getting dull, and there are plenty of thoughtful guitar hooks interlaced with brass sections, strings, and an intermittent flute…it’s the occasional appearance of these additional instruments that sparks the most excitement while listening to this record. The final song, “What Have I Done”, a tale of a man holed up in an El Paso motel scratching lyrics on paper plates instead of writing a great novel, turns out to be the album’s most memorable track. It impresses with its swell of electronic ambiance, growling bass, and triumphantly dejected chorus as Kasher keeps screaming “What have I done, what have I done, what have I done!” until he is out of breath.
The intensity and passion of Mama, I’m Swollen is what hooks the listener, and, whether a Cursive fan or not, it is also what keeps you coming back for more. On DrownedInSound.com, James Skinner hits the nail on the head as he writes:
Mama, I’m Swollen manages to synthesize almost every strength of [Cursive] while tangibly pushing them ever forward. An enviable awareness of space only hinted at in the past is present, lyrical concerns are ranging and articulate as ever, and the sonic dexterity exhibited is something to revel in. This album feels like a simultaneous departure and tacit acknowledgement of erstwhile achievements.
While hardcore fans may be torn when it comes to Mama, I’m Swollen Cursive’s latest attempt at immortality is a classic example of emotional lyrics and simple, yet embellished melodies. It may sound like the Cursive you know and love but that’s only because it is the Cursive you know and love. Give Mama, I’m Swollen a second listen. It’ll grow on you.