Everybody’s Coming Down is heavy, eccentric and downright noisy enough to standalone in The Good Life’s catalog.
The Good Life hasn’t done much over the past eight years aside from a show here or there. While frontman and scribe, Tim Kasher, spent most of that time with his primary venture, Cursive, Stefanie Drootin-Senseney, Ryan Fox and Roger Lewis worked with a variety of other projects revolving around many of the groups on Saddle Creek’s extensive roster. The lineup never broke up, but eight years is no short absence. Not only has the band returned with Everybody’s Coming Down, they’ve created a record that is barely recognizable when compared to their previous material. This is a rock record. It’s heavy, eccentric and downright noisy enough to standalone in The Good Life’s catalog, as well as the rest of Kasher’s offbeat musical adventures.
Kasher has said that if he hadn’t pursued music, he would have used his English degree to become a professor or a writer or both. Kasher’s unique lyrics have always been a high point of his work. He’s already shown the type of talent he has with a pen, but there’s a focus here that hearkens back to Cursive’s The Ugly Organ, a full body of work tethered together by theme and idiosyncrasy. Everybody’s Coming Down is a great lyrical piece of work in much the same way. Guilt, self-doubt and an obsession with the past get boiled down into simple, strange but, ultimately, powerful observations about living with regret. In “Everybody” Kasher uses typically pleasant imagery and twists it as he sees fit. “Everybody’s riding the ferris wheel/ And the pinnacle’s gorgeous/ Everybody’s trying to stay focused/ To live in the moment/ Once the ride is done they’re back in line again/ But the carnival closes at nine/ And it’s a quarter to five/ There’s a lump in their throats/ ‘Cause they know this is it/ Still they paste on a smile/ And hold each other a little closer”
Kasher’s lyrical pathos is tempered by compositions that range from straight up head-bobbing rockers with mud drenched tones to murky and bummer-soaked examinations of sadness and pain. The most impressive achievement may come from Kasher’s vocal melodies and cadences. They have a sense of sardonic wit that makes the whole experience worth listening to. He isn’t asking you to feel the pain in his words; he’s nudging, winking, nodding, acknowledging the impression that, yeah, life’s can be mostly shit sometimes, but guess what? Alcohol, music and living are pretty worth the fecal trudge, if only to have the opportunity to commiserate with people who feel the same.
The finer tracks on the record are the most discordant and strange. “Holy Shit” starts with a riff reminiscent of a bad hair metal band that is out of place enough to be fun, and a perfect fit for an album that has no set sound. Noisy and weird, Kasher repeats the song’s title again and again out of disbelief that life has taken shape the way it has.
“Forever Coming Down” shouldn’t work. It’s seemingly a bunch random and off-key guitars set to a beat that is half folk, half circus in a kick drum vs snare battle for most number of hits in two and a half minutes. Mixed with a catchy, but slightly deranged chorus of “I’m never coming down,” this frantic tune is so weird that you won’t be able to help but listen again.
Everybody’s Coming Down can be off putting at times. It can be tedious with its level of discordance. It can become bleak in tracks where Kasher’s vocal sarcasm can’t drag the lyrics out of the sad-sack muck. It’s recorded in such a way that sometimes makes it tough to understand what’s going on. While the theme and attitude may be consistent there is often a quality control disparity from song to song. Granted, the strong points far outweigh the flimsy spots, but there are places where enough is enough.
The Good Life bookends the album by bleeding the final track, “Midnight is Upon Us,” back into the opening track, “7 in the Morning.” By beginning and ending with the same piece of music, Everybody’s Coming Down becomes a never ending loop that enhances Kasher’s idea of life as merely a series of mornings and nights. Simple, yes, but an excellent example of an album written to be an album, not a collection of tunes. Considering the amount of time it’s taken to release Everybody’s Coming Down, there is an uncertainty as to when we’ll hear their next musical leap forward. It may not have been intended this way, but a record on a loop may be the best way to tide us over.