Calling their first album in six years, Vitriola seems completely apt. Cursive front man, Tim Kasher takes his frustration with the Trump-era applies them to his only project that can properly express them. What is produced is Cursive’s most ferocious record to date.
It is almost natural to compare Vitriola to Domestica, both deal with the American dream in cutting terms. While Domestica talked about the erosion of the American dream through the lens of Kasher’s divorce, Vitriola address the end of the American dream through the lens of modern times.
On the album’s lead single “Life Savings,” Kasher delivers the lines “There’s no scruples, only money, money/Dollars or rubles, it’s all money, money/Money buys you clemency/In a clandestine economy, money, money.” It’s the first time he has taken on capitalism in these terms since “Dorothy at Forty” but over the chugging guitars and added cello, it sounds more urgent and more vital than ever.
Sometimes the complaints can sound like the proverbial old man yelling “get off my lawn.” For example, Kasher’s shredded voice sings “The internet gave the world a mouthpiece/That swallowed our enlightened intellect/The voice of man has been exposed/As vitriol, don’t gotta read between the HTML” on “Ouroboros.” The internet is making us dumber is not a hot take but on the very next verse Kasher delivers the frothiest of lines “The writer will obsess over success/Success is like the carrot on a stick/Once the writer finds it’s just a carrot/The writer takes a shit all over it.” It’s the type of line that not many writers would dare deliver or have the wit to write.
The biggest criticism of Vitrola is that it is all talk and no action; there is no “make sure you vote” or “let’s overthrow the government,” it is just commiserations. For all the people who feel confused and angry about the world, the songs do let you know that someone else feels the same way you do. If you can get over the fact that the complaints on the album aren’t novel concepts then you can enjoy Kasher’s cynicism which can be downright funny at times. So scream along with Cursive, it’s not going to change the world but it just might make you feel better.