Tim Kasher’s second full-length record is another manic therapy session that could pull anyone listening into their own emotional spirals.
Adult Film starts out playfully. “American Lit” is a tongue-in-cheek, psych-rock declaration that “we are great Americans / our novels need to be written.” (Then the book becomes a film.) “Truly Freaking Out” ups the energy with a great wow-wowing pulse an electric organ runs, but the lyrics betray mental collapse: “I know, I know I know the end will swallow us whole … I don’t believe the fairy tale of our eternity.”
It all falls apart heart-wrenchingly on “Where’s Your Lie.” It’s a fuzzed-out poem on a failed relationship, dripping in self-loathing. “What’s your heart think? / Does it blame you for settling?” is just one line of punishing question — one that ends in “Goddamn what’s wrong with me? / I’m ruining your love.” These lyrics could be chronicled song by song, another stab at the heart each time, but just looking at the song titles is evidence enough that Adult Film stays in this mode. Next comes “The Willing Cuckold” and “Life and Limbo,” the latter of which welcomes back the electric organ to excellent effect. It ends with “A Lullaby, Sort Of” — a pretty, acoustic guitar-driven “lullaby” on which he reflects on whether his father could have reconciled his differences with his grandfather before he died of cancer. Some of it doesn’t quite measure up — “Lay Down Your Weapons” and “You Scare Me To Death” — because the great songs around them set a high standard.
Over the 10 songs of Adult Film, you might picture Kasher weeping over a piano, thoughtfully plucking at a guitar or bouncing around some keys with cathartic energy. The feelings and their intensity are all over the place — so fantastically manic, it must be real. And if it’s not, all that organ is enough to keep things exciting.