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The Good Life: Album of the Year

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Tim Kasher has a thing for concept albums. At least, it would seem that way, looking at his history. Cursive’s Happy Hollow chronicles political and religious views of you normal conservative small towners. Ugly Organ is presented as a play about a broken-hearted fool who is stuck in a cycle of meaningless one-night stands. The Good Life latest, Help Wanted Nights, sounds like it definitely has some common things. Perhaps the most solid concept album that Kasher has ever written, though, is Album of the Year by the Good Life. Album of the Year isn’t a magnificent story. A couple meets. There are rumors that the guy is cheating. They break up in a nasty way. What’s so interesting about the album though, is the way that it is set up and how well the songs are written. Now, this is just what Wikipedia told me, but supposedly each track on the album represents one month.

The first song is “Album of the Year” and it is by far the best on the album. It tells of how the two met and how they fell apart, from the man’s perspective. This track takes place in April. Then “Night and Day” is again from the man’s perspective. It talks about the woman’s personality, perhaps showing how close they are growing. The next track, “Under a Honeymoon,” sings of the two’s blatant denial that their relationship will one day end. The lyrics “we decide to hold nothing back/act how we want to act/so eventually we became pretty good actors” stand out especially. The next two, “You’re no Fool” and “Notes in his Pocket,” is when the listener hears instances of cheating. The first song is people (friends and family, it would seem) telling why her boyfriend is bad and that “You’re no fool” implying she should leave him. “Notes in his Pocket,” are instances of infidelity, the in the chorus it’s made clear that they are only rumors. Throughout the album, it is never said whether acts of cheating were actually commited. “You’re not You” is the woman trying to decide to leave. The feeling is conveyed better in this song than any others, I think. The whole sound is kind of tired and worn out, which is how the woman seems to be feeling. Then “October Leaves,” taking place in October of all times, is from the man’s perspective again when he realizes that the woman’s love for him is drastically changing like the seasons (how clever). At the end of this track is perhaps the most intresting part of the album. There’s a conversation between a man and a woman, with the woman starting: “Hey?/Yes?/Are you sleeping? /No. / Can I ask you something? /Yes. /Are you cheating on me? /No. / Are you lying?” In “Lovers Need Lawyers” the main character defends his actions to the woman, feeling like he’s on trial. Another great song is “Inmates.” This one is sung almost completely by the woman character. In this song, the woman seems to be standing her own ground finally, asking rehtorical questions that give clues to their mangled relationship. At the end she says “I’m leaving, I can’t be your prisoner.” “Needy” in my opinion is a fairly needless track. It’s the man basically saying he’s sad alone and doesn’t like it. “A New Friend” really wraps up the album. It’s interesting. Obviously, the girl has a new friend and the main character runs into them at a Valentine’s Day party. Apparently the “new friend” and the main character are quite similar, and the main character says “sounds familiar/better hold on tight.” In the last verse, the main character says some things that clearly indicate he’s still interested: “he’s all you need so forget me/ marry him at once/ but if you ever change your mind/ I could still buy that box of wine/ I’ve still got your copy of Harold & Maude” then there is a small break and “but you’ve got a new friend.” The last track is “Two Years this Month.” The first minute or so of the track is pieces of previous songs randomly layered and fading in and out signifying the main character’s reminiscing. In this song, the man is giving up hope as it has been “two years this month” since they last spoke.

All in all, the storytelling on this album is superb. It’s definitely one of my favorite conceptual works. I admit, the music isn’t for everyone, I think everyone should listen to “Album of the Year.”

THis version is fairly different from the album version. On the album he doesn’t say “Handjobs to the local drunks” but “cocktails.”

I don’t know if this is a Viacom video.

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Written by Jacob Z

July 4, 2008 at 11:27 am

2 Responses

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  1. “Awesome!”

    This is actually pretty cool. I’ve been meaning to listen to them for a really long time, but there are bands I have had one waiting lists for months and months — and literally years in the case of Cursive. <_<

    Marshall B

    July 4, 2008 at 3:31 pm

  2. If you’re checking out The Good Life, start with Album of the Year. With Cursive, I’d definitely start with Domestica or the Ugly Organ.

    Glad you like =)

    Jacob Z

    July 5, 2008 at 12:15 am


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