REVIEW: The Good Life – “Everybody”
by Chad Jewett
The Good Life has too often been understood as chiefly an outlet for material that didn’t quite fit the prickly post-hardcore of Tim Kasher’s day-job in Cursive. The sepia baroque of The Ugly Organ likely couldn’t have accommodated glitchy lap-top pop, so there was The Good Life’s Black Out (truth be told an album as good as The Ugly Organ). 2006 brought the grand, outsized theatrical bombast of Cursive’s Happy Hollow, which made The Good Life’s spare, haunted Help Wanted Nights the right spot for a set of wispy alt-country songs from Kasher. The problem with this narrative, however, is that it loses sight of just how excellent a band The Good Life is beyond any notion of their relationship to Cursive. Stefanie Drootin has long been one of indie rock’s best bassists, her lines full of crisp, springy melody. Roger L. Lewis, a flexible and creative drummer, has done amazing work pivoting from the tight electro of Black Out to the music-hall drama of Album of the Year to the sere rustling of Help Wanted Nights. And Ryan Fox has served admirably as a jack-of-all-trades “glue guy”, underlining the flexibility that has long defined The Good Life.
Now we find the band, back from an eight-year hiatus, with “Everybody”, the first single from their forthcoming LP Everybody’s Coming Down. Eschewing both the rustic twang of their last two LPs and the digital crackle of their first two, “Everybody” finds The Good Life working in a loose, careening emo register, actually recalling the fizzy, punch-drunk power-pop of Weezer’s Pinkerton. Fox’s and Kasher’s fuzzed guitars climb up the song’s thick stomp like competing strands of ivy vines in scuffed, practice-amp glory as Drootin and Lewis nimbly reinforce the abrupt drops, whispered bridges, and sudden bursts that keep “Everybody” feeling giddily unpredictable. It’s the loosest and most inspired Tim Kasher has sounded in ages, even as he’s singing about existential crises (“Everybody’s saddled with sadness / A longing they can’t quit”), and, in a year that saw disappointingly anemic releases from the Pacific-Northwest bands that first carved out this sonic space, it’s a joy to hear these sounds actually seem alive again.