With the arrival of Tim Kasher’s sophomore solo album, ‘Adult Film,’ it finally feels like autumn
For some, October means Halloween. For baseball fans, it’s playoff season. And for fans of the band The Good Life, October is the month of Tim Kasher.
The band’s introspective hit “October Leaves,” featuring Kasher’s gorgeous lyrics—“The days when we made it, the world was green / Now autumn has fallen, everything's changed”—has come to define the fall season for indie rock enthusiasts.
But while the song comes to a distressing conclusion—“The season’s changing / It’s for the worse”—Kasher says he’s in a much better place today.
“Things are great for me right now,” says the Chicago-based musician, who also fronts the band Cursive. He even uses the word “ecstatic” when speaking of his cross-country fall tour with Laura Stevenson, in support of his new solo record, Adult Film, a follow-up to 2010’s The Game of Monogamy.
On Adult Film’s album cover, shot by Chicago-based photographer John Sturdy, Kasher is shirtless, sweaty, and dirty, with a black bar and the words “Adult Film” censoring his eyes. It’s tempting to make a pornography parallel in a physical sense, but throughout the album, as with every record that Kasher creates, he bares himself emotionally, and quite eloquently, as he tackles his recurring cast of thematic demons: marriage and children, commitment and abandonment, aging and death.
With the abundance of synths and keys played by bandmate and co-producer of Monogamy, Patrick Newbery, Adult Film is not just intense and solemn, but equally enjoyable and uplifting, too.
When asked about the return of various themes, Kasher explains, “Mostly because I just started writing under my own name, I don’t feel the need lyrically to go spiralling into any extreme direction just yet. So I’m writing what’s kind of most comfortable or what’s most familiar for me … I’m aware that this might seem more like another chapter after Monogamy versus a wholly different book.”
One of Kasher’s favorite songs at the moment, besides the album’s penultimate synth-heavy track, “A Looping Distress Signal,” is “You Scare Me to Death.” The song opens with a terrifying, yet brilliant, whine from a musical saw, and then ends with the chilling lyrics, “The more I try to love someone, the more the horror grows / You scare me to death / Surely you’ll leave me yet / By car crash or a heart attack / Or simply losing interest.”
“It’s completely a love song, but it’s written as a horror, you know?” Kasher laughs. “It makes a lot of sense to me. I think that we’re all scared of actually giving ourselves completely to another person, and we’re also scared of them leaving once we have given ourselves to them fully. I had to explain it to my mom—my mom listens to everything that I do—I thought that was odd that she somehow kind of missed all of that and thought it was just a very queer, scary song. Which is good too, I’m OK with that ... I’m okay with however people want to hear it.”
Another standout track, “A Raincloud is a Raincloud,” is an upbeat blend of electronics and horns, as Kasher declares “I’m done pining / for my silver lining,” almost like a twisted version of “Rain Rain Go Away.”
“Yeah, it’s intentionally a children’s melody,” says Kasher. “I originally just based it off of the bullying chant of like ‘Nah nah nah nah nah—can’t catch me!’ and kind of just knowing that I was using that melody, but I was going to write about an adult trying to set aside childish pursuits.”
Chock-full of painful love songs and sonic surprises, Adult Film demonstrates first and foremost Kasher’s dexterity as a songwriter.
“If there are aspects of narcissism that I probably can’t get over, it’s [because] I love being a part of this kind of grand tradition in our culture of passing culture along … being a cog in that. I love it," says Kasher. "There’s so much music in film and literature that I’ve just absolutely adored growing up, and if I’m ever that to other people, that’s really exciting. I can’t believe that I get a pass to be a part of that ecological system of writing."
Tim Kasher performs at 9 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 16, at The Crepe Place, 1134 Soquel Ave., Santa Cruz. Tickets are $10/adv, $12/door. For more information, call 429-6994.
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