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Omaha's Cursive makes post-hardcore sound appealing for almost anyone

 Cursive has done away with cellos, but maintains its catchy, prog-rock sound on the new album, 'Mama, I'm Swollen.'
WENDY LYNCH REDFERN
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Date published: 5/1/2009

BY JOHN KOVALCHIK

Since its formation in the mid 1990s, Omaha's Cursive has put out a large and diverse discography of progressive, catchy tunes.

Like its famous Saddle Creek Records label-mate Bright Eyes, Cursive has undergone occasional lineup changes--including the additions of cello and a horn section--and has taken several hiatuses.

Yet, the band has won acclaim for its innovation and impressive lyricism, and has become a key contributor to the "Omaha sound"--a mix of post-rock and pop with a twang reflective of the Nebraska town's geography.

Always hard at work, Cursive recently released its sixth album, "Mama, I'm Swollen," on March 10.

Unfortunately, this new album does not include cellist Gretta Cohn. Senior fans of Cursive may miss this, and the sparse background string tracks don't nearly make up the difference.

But "Mama, I'm Swollen" doesn't lack any of the energy and musicianship of Cursive's previous five albums.

Unlike most other post-rock groups, Cursive isn't hard to listen to--the band stays away from unconventional time signatures and filler tracks as well as pretentious, unnecessary, ambient outros.

Cursive's ability to make unstructured songs catchy without much repetition forces the listener to pay closer attention to the outrageous layering of instruments and effects.

Although "Mama" offers nothing particularly different from the band's previous canon, this is not a problem--straying from the post-hardcore riffs and introspective lyrics would have been a mistake.

The album has the perfect mixture of upbeat and slow-tempo songs, appealing to fans of Cursive's 2006 release, "Happy Hollow," or, perhaps, to the average Bright Eyes listener.

"Mama, I'm Swollen" is an all-around pleasing album that still delivers classic Cursive sound, which will earn the approval of both the punk kid and his mama.

John Kovalchik is a sophomore at Stafford High School.


What: Cursive performs, with openers Man Man and Andrew Wright Where: Black Cat, 1811 14th St. N.W., Washington When: Sunday, 8 p.m. Cost: $15 (advance), $17 (day of) Info: 202/667-4490 Web: blackcatdc.com