Music Reviews

On THERE’S A PLACE I CAN REST, cursetheknife Remake Themselves


Genre: Alternative Rock, Slowcore, Shoegaze

Favorite Tracks: “The Gift,” “Reach,” “Thrall”

On their latest album, Oklahoma City’s cursetheknife remake themselves. Where they were easily lumped in with many of their peers in the heavy shoegaze scene when they dropped THANK YOU FOR BEING HERE, on THERE’S A PLACE I CAN REST they make the case that they belong in a scene of their own. 

With the benefit of retrospect, you can hear moments and ideas across THANK YOU FOR BEING HERE that sound more like sketches for some of the members’ other projects—notably the alt-metal revivalists Money or the similarly nostalgic dream pop band Mad Honey. Not so on THERE’S A PLACE I CAN REST, which is built less on the grungy alt-metal that made up most of cursetheknife’s previous material, instead using slowcore as a foundation and building outward from there. The band notes in a recent interview with the Alternative that their intention was to make a record distinct from their debut and, to that end, they embraced influences like Townes Van Zandt and Red House Painters; it’s a bold left turn from what they were doing before and it plays to all their strengths.

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Their take on slowcore has less in common with that of the dour and lovelorn Horse Jumper of Love; it’s closer in spirit to the eerie, haunted stylings of Bedlocked or labelmates and fellow Oklahomans Downward. It’s similar to Iress’ nearly metallic slowcore in the way that these songs crawl to finales as though bruised and battered; although there are bands who create similar atmospheres with their music, here cursetheknife set themselves apart with a powerful synthesis of the crunch of ‘90s radio rock and the shambling dirgelike tones of slowcore. The pairing of “Reach” and “Thrall” in the album’s center is a perfect showcase: “Reach” throbs with anxiety, a slow burn that lurches toward an overblown coda, and “Thrall” is built on a grimy, grungy chorus that promises catharsis without ever providing it. In its last minute, “Thrall” gives in and bursts into a searing, heavy climax, the release of all the tension from the previous couple tracks.

It’s in the last third of THERE’S A PLACE I CAN REST, after the buzz at the end of “Thrall” dies out, that it becomes clear the flirtation with darker, slower tones isn’t just a phase for the band. The last three tracks might be the most challenging stretch of the LP for fans of the band’s earlier, more punchier material—from “Big Ole House” on, the album downshifts into something incredibly lowkey; these songs are the most straightforwardly slowcore here, and the dusty, muted title track could pass for a Songs: Ohia outtake. “Big Ole House” plods along over a sputtering beat, vocals never rising above a conversational volume, threatening to get drowned out by the background hum—the version here is the band’s original demo, and the distant, crackly quality of the recording fits its unhurried pace.

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Sandwiched between the two is the sparse “Cost of Living,” dressed in chiming leads and delivered in a whisper as though every lyric is a secret. Between “Big Ole House”’s lo-fi charm and the old-timey twang of “There’s a Place I Can Rest,” “Cost of Living” is the most straightforward of the three in its intentions—perhaps out of anything on the album. It serves to say that, at this point, cursetheknife has more of a kinship with Bedhead or Low than Deftones or Hum. In 2023, they’re a slowcore band, and they’re damn good at it. Let THERE’S A PLACE I CAN REST swallow you.

Zac Djamoos
Zac Djamoos is an Editor for The Alternative whose work you've also read on and Treble Zine!

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