Happy Hollow has been highly anticipated, having to follow up two great albums: 2000's Domestica, a portrait of frontman Tim Kasher's divorce; and 2003's The Ugly Organ, a more abstract development on a concept inspired by personal relationships and art. But you probably knew that.
        After releasing a compilation of older, unreleased material, it seemed evident that Cursive was going to take some changes, and possibly move past the divorce foci.
        Well yeah, that is the case.
Happy Hollow focuses on being happy and hollow, but in a more sociological sense. Themes include church immorality, "family values" hypocrisy, religion-war liaison, and spoiling American dreams. To sum it up, pretty much the whole album is a poetic expos´┐Ż of ideals and dreams that spoil and rot in reality. The lyrical content of this album differs much from its predecessors, and while Kasher's woes made for the most amazing emo songs, he has moved on and added a different meaning to Cursive's music.
        As for the musical aspect, it's important to know that Gretta Cohn has left the band. So yeah, no cello. But you do get awesome horns and sax parts throughout the entire album. And I'm not kidding, they're cool. That's one of the most major changes to the band's sound.
        Robby and I once decided that Cursive "takes a lot of ugly sounds and creates something really beautiful with them." Actually, Robby said that, I just said yeah that's true. But he's right, just listen to "A Gentleman Caller" and Tim's squealing at the climax of "The Martyr." This album is less dissonant and more consistent. A lot of the songs sound like twisted circus tunes and sailor shanties, but in a great way. Some of the songs are jazzy, some gloomy, some straightforward. Their signature drunken feel is in quite a few songs, such as "Big Bang."
        Having dropped the personal focus, you might expect a less expressive album, but you'd be wrong and a dick for doubting Cursive. While
Happy Hollow might not have an operatic finale like "Staying Alive" or any exasperated wailing, it is just as musically passionate on the issues in the lyrics as any of the band's previous releases.
        If you're asking me whether
Happy Hollow is better or worse than in comparison to Cursive's previous releases, I have no answer for you. This album serves a different purposes and moods. It's a different face of the band that hasn't been really developed until now. All you need to know is it's still Cursive, it still sounds Nebraskan, it still has its post-punk and emo influences, and it's really well developed. Get it in stores on August 22nd or order it on Saddle Creek Record's site and you'll get it before released date.
C.L. '06
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Saddle Creek Records

1) Opening The Hymnal / Babies
2) Dorothy At Forty
3) Big Bang
4) Bad Sects
5) Flag And Family
6) Dorothy Dreams Of Tornados
7) Retreat!
8) The Sunks
9) At Conception
10) So-So Gigolo
11) Bad Science
12) Into The Fold
13) Rise Up! Rise Up!
14) Hymns For The Heathen
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Band Website