I was first introduced to Cursive around the time Happy Hollow came out — if you’re reading this Colin, thanks — and to say that it caught me off guard would be a tremendous understatement. I really enjoy the storytelling aspect of their music and the ability Tim Kasher has of conveying the emotion in his written lyric with voice is one of the most appealing parts of the band. A song like “Bad Sects” really drives this point home.
“Bad Sects” tells the story of a pastor — presumably living in the town of Happy Hollow — and his closeted homosexuality, culminating in a one night stand with another young student of the gospel. The imagery alone is powerful enough, but when the bridge hits and his inner voice begins to taunt him by repeating “You’ll never live this down” the song goes into even heavier territory, exploring the shame and guilt that small town America (and some religious denominations) can impose on normal, healthy homosexual people. Living in a small southern town, I can attest to the fact that this struggle is all too real and more songs like this are needed to confront that ugly truth and put it in the spotlight where it belongs.
“Bad Sects” is a highlight on the album for me, but as a concept piece Happy Hollow really works in painting a dark vignette of small town USA.