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Album of the Year

The Good Life

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Album Review

The Good Life follow up the excellent Lovers Need Lawyers EP with their best record yet and maybe the best indie rock record of 2004. Album of the Year is a concept record of sorts, one song for each month, each song a heart-rending essay of love found, lost, broken, or ripped apart, ranging from the puppy love "Album of the Year" to the depressed, resigned-to-loss "A New Friend" and "Two Years This Month." Tim Kasher has found his voice, and almost all traces of previous Robert Smith-isms are gone; instead, he whispers, hollers, cajoles, and confesses in a voice stripped of artifice and plugged right into the listener's soul. The record is perfectly constructed. Based around acoustic guitars, the songs are colored in with keyboards, various percussion instruments, and glockenspiel, and made dramatic and often breathtaking. Songs like "You're Not You" and "Album of the Year" are pocket epics, created out of atmosphere and dynamic shifts in mood. Most of the songs are relatively downbeat, but a few, like "Lovers Need Lawyers," show that the band can write snappy pop songs as well. Kasher's lyrics are incisive, personal, and about as honest-sounding as rock music can get. He doesn't flinch from any topic — not sex, lack of sex, divorce, self-mutilation, or his own shortcomings — and manages to never pen anything that leaves the listener queasy. He gives the most self-lacerating song, "Inmates," to guest vocalist Jiha Lee to sing "lover done wrong" style before they sing the second half together like an indie George and Tammy. The attention to detail in the production, the punchy melodies, and the sympathetic performances by the group — along with Kasher's writing that is nothing less than gripping and often head-shakingly brilliant — make this record an indispensable artifact for anyone who likes indie rock with a real emotional punch. The record comes with a second "bonus" disc that presents the songs in their acoustic demo form. It is a nice addition, but you will find yourself listening to the first disc more often simply because of the wonderful production values.

Biography

Formed: 2000

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '00s, '10s

Tim Kasher spent the end of the 1990s making powerful and somewhat underrated music as the lead singer and guitarist for the Omaha-based post-rock quartet Cursive, but the band never really allowed for him to explore any of his softer ideas and more personal sentiments. For years, the always-inventive songwriter had been storing his mellower ideas aside, occasionally playing them at local coffeehouse shows or in the company of friends, but never sharing them with a very wide audience. In 2000 all...
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Album of the Year, The Good Life
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