Reality and romance rarely co-exist seamlessly. Romance inherently distorts reality to something more elegant — or raw, depending on what the romantic prefers — something more powerful than the mundane real-life situation too easily and too often shot down by logic. But behind anything we do, something “real” actually exists, regardless of what warps and spins and painful heartache we inflict on it. Tim Kasher rejects this difficult co-existence and delivers Album of the Year, the third full-length from his band the Good Life, as an example that reality becomes the romantic once it begins to infiltrate every second of thought and being.
The album finds itself in a difficult place. Lyrically obsessed with Kasher’s relationship disorders and his honest telling of them, Album of the Year relies heavily on the music to differentiate it from prior releases. Black Out and the band’s 2000 debut, Novena on a Nocturn, have established the group’s sound and a basis for progression, and they have not set the bar low. Album of the Year lays sing-along pop melodies among electronic and cross-genre songwriting experimentation in true Good Life fashion. But I began to wonder whether they should devote so much time to an album that’s tapped from such a similar vein, especially when the last two albums have been soundtracks to your break-ups. It’s not that it’s bad; it’s just is it that good?
The answer is yes, it’s pretty damn good. There is something to be said for the way Kasher obsesses over the subject matter he deals with in both the Good Life and Cursive, his other band. Passion like that does not go without reward, and the Good Life manages to consistently sidestep the side-project hole and stand out on its own. Album of the Year is no exception. And though the fact that this release is hard to distinguish from the others may be its downfall, it’s still worth adding to the soundtrack to breaking up and being really, really bummed about it.