Tim Kasher – The Game of Monogamy

Rating: ★★½☆☆

It seems like Tim Kasher has been at it for years and years. His most renown projects include Cursive and The Good Life, but he finally wants the glory all to himself.  His first release under his own name, The Game of Monogamy, seems to work like much of his other projects, pulling auto-biographical references from his own life, laying them before the ears of the listener.

Oddly, “A Grown Man” begins with Tim’s statement: “I’m a grown man/I don’t know what I want,” which really puts the purpose of this entire album out in the open.  It seems that age hasn’t brought Tim too much clarity, though such difficulty has typically benefited his musical aspirations.  While he moves into brighter moments musically with “I’m Afraid I’m Gonna Die Here,” a song that uses a nice horn opening moment, the thematic element of struggling with self-worth once again dominates the lyrics.

It’s funny, but if you’ve been listening to Tim for years, as you probably should have been, it all seems like territory to easily visited time and time again.  The Game of Monogamy appears like a re-hash of a lot of his older songs, at least when it comes to the subject matter.  That being said, Tim’s storytelling never gets boring, despite the redundancy of ideas from album to album.  Keeping that in mind, the one thing that really lacks on this record, if you look through the lyrical homage to early works, is the music.  Even with The Good Life, Tim crafted these sweeping movements within his songs, mostly based upon the melody of his voice, but these new songs don’t seem to be as developed.  “Bad, Bad Dreams” has a nice horn arrangement, which seems to have become a favorite go-to move for Tim as of the last several years, but overall, the rest of the songs just doesn’t come off as elaborate as the work you would associate with him.  The guitar lines are just basic streaming, and the horns dominate a lot of the moments that used to seem intimate.

Of course, Tim Kasher always has a way to suck you back in with his openness, such as he does with “The Prodigal Husband.”  His memorable voice is able to carry the entire song, even with the light string (read: harp) work that softly dances in the background of the song.  Mid-song appears a nice little female accompaniment, which really gives a bit more depth to the song, making it one of the strongest pieces on this album.  Similarly, “Cold Love” is exactly the song you wanted Tim to write time and time again.  It’s got a nice little synthesizer in the background, and Tim’s voice changes pitch and tone, giving way to that heartache we all know he feels.  The man can still write a great track when he wants, and we’re all grateful for that.

Perhaps its old age, and perhaps its just that we’re all as jaded as Tim Kasher, but something about this record just really leaves you wanting more.  Usually his solo work relies upon his voice, with other instruments bringing the songs to life, but here, while much is the same, the horns and strings just don’t hold up to a guitar or throbbing electronic beat ; even his guitar seems absent throughout the entirety of The Game of Monogamy. While there are several great songs here, sadly, this is one Tim Kasher release, among the many I love, that I can’t whole-heartedly get behind.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/08/05-Cold-Love.mp3]

Download: Tim Kasher – Cold Love [MP3]

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