As far as distilled visions of his non-screaming singer-songwriter persona goes, nothing touches Tim Kasher‘s Album of the Year, under The Good Life moniker. It’s the most underrated breakup album of all time, marrying and divorcing in theme and metaphor a harrowingly beautiful relationship over the course of a year, while fusing everything Kasher does best – catharsis worth $100/hour, noir American soundscapes and of course turning golden literary verses. While “under the influence of all those drunken romantics,” Fante to Bukowski, Kasher’s pen never had a hard time flexing: [LISTEN]

"Album of the Year"

With first official solo effort The Game of Monogamy, six years later in 2010, we saw Conor Oberst‘s Omaha self-loathing compadre decide to about-face on the thrashes of Cursive even further and use his own name and get orchestral, rich with allusions to his playwriting muscle, lulled from song to song with wind instruments and overtures, rife with the gumption to write the next chapter of his life, horns a-blast, but still wrought with the thought of nobody ever listening to what he has to say: [LISTEN]

"I'm Afraid I'm Gonna to Die Here"

On Adult Film, his second record under the name his mother gave him, he just sounds bored, laying it all out candidly with a palpitating vocal loop and some pop and crunch keys on opener “American Lit:”

"American Lit"

Granted, his tongue is pressed firmly against his cheek here, railing against the woes of the contemporary man of words and the devolution of the American publishing industry into a cookie sheet of a heartache. But it’s the most backhandedly acerbic he gets, on a record full of his most non-reflective pacifism to date. You can see the writing on the wall with the majority of his track titles – “The Willing Cuckold,” “Life and Limbo,” “Lay Down Your Weapons,” – so unfurl a collection of sentiments that play out like a friend who’s made the decision after a few drinks that you’re willing to listen to all his resigned current weights of the world.

There’s no anger here, just armchair wailing dressed in a modular sonic palate – wurlitzers, theramins, etc. – than Kasher’s accustomed to. By the time “A Lullaby, Sort Of” draws the curtain and a visceral point is made, it’s too late, its innocence-is-bliss skewering commentary can’t land a punch for the rest of an album that doesn’t fight:

"A Lullaby, Sort Of"