The Good Life – Black Out

The Good Life
Black Out

Once a side project of Cursive’s Tim Kasher, The Good Life’s first album was a chance for Kasher to explore a more mellow, keyboard-focused rock approach. Now, The Good Life is a full project and not merely Kasher and guests, and it’s a toss-up which of his two projects is the full-time gig. With a full band for every song, Black Out benefits as feeling significantly more cohesive than Novena on a Nocturn, itself an excellent album.
The album starts out too heavily on the keyboards, actually sounding more poppy than typical Kasher material, and while it’s not what you expect, these first songs only set the stage for a host of stellar tunes that follow. The prominent factor here is definitely Kasher’s voice and his strong lyrical content as well as his guitar work, but the sound is fully fleshed out, at times sounding akin to Bright Eyes, at times to Cursive, at times The Gloria Record, yet usually quite definitively unique Kasher.
The album begins and ends with the poetic “Black Out,” but the first real song is the bouncy keyboard-driven “The Beaten Path.” More dreamy and layered, “Some Bullshit Escape” gets a more personal feel, while “O’Rourke’s 1:20 a.m.” shows off sequenced beats and a soaring, almost desperate feel. “Hold on – you’re so fucked up…so fickle. / Isn’t this what you want? So simple, so single,” Kasher sings. There’s organ and some interesting electronic noises that make up the foundation of the lofty “The New Denial,” which is probably the album’s big rock song.
Almost as if the album is a work in two parts, a short instrumental, also titled “Black Out,” breaks up the album before the more rocking “I Am an Island,” which sounds like a more relaxed Cursive song, more airy yet very catchy. Another sequal, “After O’Rourke’s, 2:10 a.m.” is more melancholy and mellow, with dreamy atmospherics, while “Empty Bed” is much more of a production, a dramatic mix of electronics and soaring rock. There’s some nice strings to end the ultra quiet “Don’t Make Love So Hard,” and “Off the Beaten Path” ties things up with a nice big rock sound, filled with organs and Kasher’s emotional soaring vocals.
Black Out goes a few steps further than Novena on a Nocturn, and it benefits greatly from the full band approach. It is still Tim Kasher’s focus for melancholy and dramatic songs, and if that’s not your thing, you might want to pass. If you appreciate the in-depth human psyche examination in your songs, then it doesn’t get much better. Kasher experiments with sounds and approaches on this album, and for the most part he succeeds wonderfully. While not drastically different from his other work or compatriots, this is still a powerful, soaring album that’s as personal as it is intense.