Despite its provocative title, Tim Kasher’s second full-length album, Adult Film, has little, if anything, to do with pornography. Instead, the Cursive and Good Life frontman’s latest offering merely revolves around complicated grown-up themes such as relationships, death and money.
This litany of topics is familiar territory for the veteran singer-songwriter. Since his earliest days in Commander Venus in the mid-1990s, Kasher’s deeply confessional, affecting lyrics have been a hallmark of his music. Time and time again, he’s sung about infidelity, mortality and unrealized expectations. And while he continues to explore these themes in a creative manner – regularly using clever turns of phrase like the gifted lyricist he is – the constant barrage of such bleak content is somewhat predictable.
Musically, Adult Film combines jaunty pop-rock anthems (“American Lit” and “Truly Freaking Out”) with somber ballads (“Where’s Your Heart Lie,” “You Scare Me to Death” and “A Lullaby, Sort Of”). A majority of the tracks comprise straightforward pop-rock arrangements, featuring guitar, bass and drums, but Kasher effectively augments his music with the incorporation of a diverse range of instrumentation, from organs and synthesizers to brass and theremin.
Aside from some experimental musical exploration, Tim Kasher plays things relatively safe on Adult Film. Unlike the latest Cursive record, I Am Gemini – a bizarre concept album about twin brothers (one good, one evil) who meet for the first time following their parents’ death and engage in a power struggle for the soul – Adult Film doesn’t break any new ground. In fact, Adult Film is not much different from Kasher’s debut solo album, 2010’s The Game of Monogamy. But instead of bitching about how unful-filling a monogamous relationship is and how difficult it is to remain faithful, he bitches about, well, pretty much the same things here, except he doesn’t want anybody to die now.
Regardless, Tim Kasher is a master at this sort of thing. His output is consistently solid, and you’d be hard-pressed to find a more reliable songwriter in terms of quality and craftsmanship. So although you know exactly what you’re getting when you listen to a new Tim Kasher album, on the bright side, you know exactly what you’re getting.