I Am Gemini, the great Cursive’s seventh album, comes with a twelve page “play” of sorts, which purports to tell the story of twins that are separated at birth. As the press kit breathlessly notes, one twin is good, and the other is evil, “Are they two halves of one whole?”
My first reaction was: “what the hell?’ The mystery lessened, a little, when I realized that this is a concept album to end all concept albums: the play in fact is the lyric book for the album. The songs all tell the story of the two twins. So we’re supposed to read along.
Or something. I don’t know. When I get an album for the music, I’m inclined to read the liner notes, or the what have you at my leisure, and not to obsess about them. I want to know, is the album worth listening to? If it’s not, there’s no play, no story, no lyrics, no press kit, that will make me like it. I dutifully skimmed the play, and then put it aside.
So should you. This is Cursive, who have already cemented their reputation with the brilliant album, Ugly Organ. They are allowed to have some fun, some extravagance, some over the top concept (just like the Flaming Lips have that right), because this is a great album to listen to. The songs are tight, guitar-heavy, and tuneful. Sometimes the concept drags it down, at the opening and some strange interludes. But on the whole, it’s a winner, and you can take the singles and run with them – the play be damned. It’s not the thing that makes this album work. “The Sun and the Moon” is one of the best pop songs I’ve heard this year (which, weirdly, has echoes of “Jesse’s Girl,” which only works in its favor). “Wowwowow,” the first single off the album, is similarly hard-rocking, and even fun in a weird sort of way.
I may someday go back and read the play, which might help me understand the album. But for now, I’m too busy enjoying the album.