Now that the buzz around the Faint and Bright Eyes has subsided, maybe Saddle Creek labelmate Tim Kasher can finally get some attention. The timing is certainly right. While his divorce and post-breakup malaise provided ample fodder for several dyspeptic albums, that direction was beginning to look like an emotional blind alley. Kasher's theatrical autobiography threatened to be buried by Morrissey-like melancholia.
Fortunately, Kasher has moved beyond his Robert Smith vocal fetish on Cursive's latest, Happy Hollow. Kasher hasn't lost his penchant for thematic albums on this examination of religion from a variety of perspectives, and he smartly avoids proselytizing. Musically, Cursive's no longer yoked to post-punk angularity, and though cellist Greta Cohn is missed, the band's poppier approach displays a richer sonic palette.
Openers the Thermals have demonstrated a rawer political edge on each of their three Sub Pop albums, even as the music's grown more polished and melodic.