“We’re gonna blow these old holy houses to dust,” screams Cursive frontman Tim Kasher on his band’s seventh album, his speak-sing tenor slicing through raging guitars and crashing drums. I Am Gemini is reportedly a concept album about extreme duality (good and evil, angels and devils, a pair of long-lost twins named Cassius and Pollock) but it often feels like an assault on religion, powered by years of tormented Catholic guilt. This thematic ground is familiar for Kasher and company. Their 2006 album, Happy Hollow, tackled these matters directly, but Gemini is a little more pissed and a little more loopy – the sound of a sinner pardoning himself on a hell-bound LSD high. At this point in Kasher’s lyrical history, threats of church burning aren’t a shock as much as a calling card. This time, though, you kinda expect the dude to go through with it.
It’s a heady, absorbing narrative, though it’s equally obtuse – throughout, Kasher dabbles in the Bible, classic mythology, drunken birds, skeletons and (wait for it) sacrificing cats. It’s hard to make much literal sense of Kasher’s wordy rapture, but piecing together the gloomy details is weirdly cathartic. And sometimes, melody is involved: Lead single “The Sun and Moon” is a hooky, sprawling standout, and it works like a fucked-up charm despite its awkward name-dropping (“Who was there when you dined with Dionysus?…/ Who was there engorged in Gomorrah?”). Smoky opener “This House Alive” builds and contorts into a towering pop-punk epic, holding its own among the band’s finest anthems. “All my life, I’ve been made to do what’s right,” Kasher sings over tense, palm-muted guitars on “The Cat and Mouse.” “But all my life is going to end tonight.” I Am Gemini is a musical apocalypse. For better or worse, it’s hard to imagine any other band pulling it off.