The Difference Between Houses and Homes (Lost Songs and Loose Ends 1995-2001)


    Tears are streaming down my face, Cursive. Why this? Why now?


    You hit your stride with 2003’s The Ugly Organ. I don’t want to attribute everything to the addition of Gretta Cohn on cello, but damn, she sure added a unique dynamic to your sound. Cellists around the country now are being hounded by smelly emo kids to more or less rip you guys off. Among the other greats, “Art Is Hard” and “The Recluse,” as a one-two punch, were tremendous. And your frontman Tim Kasher had never been so appealing, you know, in that this-guy’s-voice-kinda-blows-but-it’s-kinda-cool sort of way.

    But you had to go and do this. You had to release The Difference Between Houses and Homes, a collection of out-of-print seven-inch singles and unreleased songs from 1995 to 2001. Why is now a good time for a career-rarities retrospective? Would you rather your fans forget the career-defining leap of The Ugly Organ? You want everyone to revert back to the days of loving you for being just another emo card from the angular-guitar deck? Maybe you’d just want to give us all a reminder that your early records were fairly boring, you know, to have us counting our lucky stars that you don’t make break-and-bake music anymore.

    “Spanning” your ten-year existence, this collection lifts the bulk (as in all but one) of its songs from your original lineup, which, as you know, was sans Cohn and included Steve Pedersen on guitar rather than his replacement Ted Stevens. So it comes as no surprise that the one Cohn track, “Nostalgia,” is the standout cut. Recorded two years before the release of The Ugly Organ, “Nostalgia” has a dark, wandering feel, reflecting a moodiness that came to characterize much of your work on the album to follow.

    Throughout the collection you’ve piled together songs that range from energetic, immature guitar hacking (“Dispenser”) to tedious slow-churners (“Icebreakers”) to just plain awfulness (“I Thought There’d Be More Than This,” “The Knowledgeable Hasbeens”). Even songs that somewhat strike the aural-pleasure chords, such as “Pivotal” and “A Disruption in the Normal Swing of Things,” are drowned out by their own bland existence as a product of a band that was at that point without a strong identity, at least in terms of having something that would set you all apart from the 4,567.47 college-townie groups making the exact same brand of rock.

    Cursive, please come out with another studio album soon so we can all forget this misstep ever happened. All will be forgiven. I promise

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