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Music Reviews

Screaming Females - Castle Talk
»Screaming Females
Castle Talk
Don Giovanni
Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross - The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
»Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross
The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
The Null Corporation
Deerhunter - Halcyon Digest
Halcyon Digest
No Age - Everything in Between
»No Age
Everything in Between
Sub Pop
Robyn - Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
The Walkmen - Lisbon
»The Walkmen
Fat Possum
Good Life
Black Out
Saddle Creek Records

Rating: NR/10 ?

October 1, 2004
Fans of Cursive, fans of Bright Eyes, fans of the Faint - unite as one under the banner of The Good Life!

Tim Kasher's heretofore side project, known as the Good Life, seems to be emerging as his new vehicle of choice and judging by the newest fruits of his labor, that is a good thing for all of us. Kasher's debut was apparently enough of a cash cow that the Saddle Creek crew called the reigning prince of emo back home to Omaha for Black Out, a deft mix of all things currently hot and marketable. Whereas Kasher's primary outfit, Cursive, has been holding steady at a yawn-inducing pace, hell-bent on writing as many blatantly autobiographical post-punk songs about failed marriage as a group of thrift store fashion connoisseurs cares to hear, his individual outing has matured remarkably in prose and programming over the course of the last few years. On Black Out, the relaxed and plaintive song styles of Novena on a Nocturn are juxtaposed with sharp IDM beats and loops to a result that is immediately satisfying. But, like most instant gratifications, the Good Life isn't that good at maintaining the listener's attention after repeated listens. I did place the album's standout track, "I Am An Island," on several mix CDs for friends, but beyond this exemplary cut the rest of the album, although solid in concept, is lacking in the consistency department.

Saying that the album is lacking in consistency may be a misnomer, as the songs all relatively follow the same pattern and, more usually than not, employ the same tricks throughout. The consistency which Black Out lacks is one of compellingness - if that is even a word - that prompts a continued rapt attention. The first time through the album sounds like some sort of modern, post-dot-com version of The Cure or Depeche Mode, but on repeated listens it comes off as more of a basement indulgence from someone with a lot of sincerity and passion but without a constant flow of new ideas. The true shame in Black Out's mediocrity is that the songwriting is generally above par for this type of foray (an album relatively early in the career of an artist attempting to make a departure from his most known body of work). Storylines and song flow are generally well conceived, and it is essentially the delivery that is lacking. Basically, the Good Life would be a whole lot more awesome if it were someone other than Tim Kasher that was delivering the end product. Someone with a stronger sense of vocal melody, a more diverse spectrum of computer programming, and a more imaginative lyrical style could take The Good Life from an interesting concept to a compact and efficient finished product. I guess there is something out there like that and its called Bright Eyes, huh? As it is, Kasher gets bogged down too often in what, after extended play, seem to be good but not great ideas. I don't cringe when this album is put on the stereo, but I quickly lose interest and rarely, if ever, bring it out on my own now that the initial flavoring has dissipated.

Reviewed by Lukas Shipman

See other reviews by Lukas Shipman



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