The density of ideas in Cursive's new I Am Gemini is impressive and unmanageable, like a dozen dogs with their leashes tied together. The songs pull relentlessly in different directions, dashing off into new time signatures and crashing riffs for eight or 16 bars before taking up another scent. It is an impressive display of songwriting versatility, often exciting but also stubbornly incoherent.
Such is the curse of the concept album. The title track is about twin brothers, Cassius and Pollockpresumably modeled on the mythical Greeks Castor and Polluxseparated at birth and then reunited "at a house that is not a home." It helps to read the liner notes. Otherwise you're left to wonder why the frenetic beat of "Wowowow" is interrupted by speculation on Siamese twin sisters, and why virtually every satisfying stretch of rock is thwarted by a descriptive interlude.
In its rush to make us think, I Am Gemini leaves little time to make us feel. The concept holds together the album but breaks apart the tracks, which, in their schizoid variety, all wind up sounding vaguely the same. Here is rock as high art. I admire the ambition, but I cannot enjoy the songs.
Cursive plays the Palace Mon., Nov. 19, at 9 PM with Boys and the Brass Monkey Band. $15. Advance tickets at Rockin Rudy's, Ear Candy and at 1111Presents.com