Formed in 1995, Cursive has become one of indie rock's understated forces. Like its peers in Oneida, the Omaha collective is ambitious and sardonic, and like its influences (Superchunk, Fugazi), it's intellectually fractured. The group's incessant touring has included shows on three different continents as well as performances on the Cure's 2004 Curiosa tour. Blender, The New York Times, and Rolling Stone all hailed The Ugly Organ, its 2003 album. Then founder Tim Kasher (vocals-guitar) needed a rest.
It was a three-year nap, but this August, the boys' club returns (minus token estrogen, cellist Greta Cohn) with Happy Hollow, and it sounds pissed. Double-standards and the facade of the American dream fuel the enigmatic arrangements of guitars, horns, piano, and other assorted instruments as Kasher's aching vocals provide a punchy charge for Cursive's strongest sound to date. Songs such as the horn-laden anthem "Rise Up! Rise Up!" and the metallic anxiety of "Retreat!" find Happy Hollow highlighting a more refreshed and concentrated Cursive.