I remember the first time I heard The Good Life's Album of the Year, and each time I return to it after an absence the blurry memories return. Kenneth* and I were on a drive, and he told me he had a new album that he was sure I would love. Our time together was often filled with him presenting a new piece of music (whether by someone else or of his own creation) that would cause me to become more impassioned and further idealize him. From the moment “Album of the Year” came on, I was no less than under the spell of Tim Kasher. Cursive’s music was violent and powerful, but I had never heard his voice gently crooning against an acoustic backdrop before. We stopped talking altogether when “Inmates” came on. I was so moved by it I wept, and he kept his hand on my thigh the whole nine minutes.
Writer’s note: *name changed, because dude probably wouldn’t appreciate that.
Play One: The Good Life does an excellent job of letting not just the lyrics but also the music take the listener on their emotional rollercoaster in this song. It starts softly and naked, gaining volumes as the deceptions are unraveled. The lyrics become more wry and resistant, and the echoing accompaniment helps to build tension underneath the main melodic line (can you tell I’m currently taking Music Appreciation?). By the time Kasher’s voice enters around four minutes, you’re just waiting for things to blow up, and that tension is answered with loud, throbbing guitar and suggestions of how to get the hell out of town around five minutes in. From there, the next four minutes are alternating states of elevated passion and quiet contemplation. Bring on the mixed feelings of self-loathing and self-empowerment. I’m ready.