Metascore
65

Generally favorable reviews - based on 20 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 11 out of 20
  2. Negative: 1 out of 20
  1. Where experimentation with layered instruments enhanced the grandness of "Happy Hollow," here it's taken one step overboard with additional flute, clarinets, and violin arrangements added on top of the supplementary horn section, to the point of making this their lightest, earthiest release to date.
  2. Its high points undeniably high, the end result is nevertheless another mild disappointment from a songwriter who would do well to cut his songs loose a bit and let them stand on their own.
  3. There is of course a huge market for their kind of angst-ridden emo, and in many ways--particularly lyrically--this album sounds like it's been lifted straight from the emo handbook, which may well satisfy many listeners. For the less committed, however, the lack of the band's usual wit and musical inventiveness will be missed.
  4. Cursive haven't sounded this crazed and inspired since their breakthrough album, 2003's "The Ugly Organ."
  5. Although the album drags in its back third, Mama, I’m Swollen is a strong addition to Cursive’s catalog.
  6. The key word is ‘almost’, because what could have been mawkish and naive is instead deliciously raw, an album for when all else fails.
  7. You can pretty much count on Cursive for a solid album, one that doesn't reinvent their wheel per se, but at least attacks each new batch of songs with little creative restraint, dressing up Kasher's musings in an ornamental, anthemic, and always visceral package. [Spring 2009, p.70]
  8. 30
    The emo-punk angst is cut with little of the band's trademark wit or ingenuity: Most of the songs plod bloodlessly to an inevitable, pointless climax of noise, sour humor, and teen nihilism.
  9. Wracked with doubt, contradiction and existential despair, Mama, I’m Swollen strikes out as a weighty, superbly realised endeavour which, for all its oppressive nature, is as eminently listenable and brave an album as any the band have produced.
  10. Tim Kasher is emo's grown-up hero--a punk who pays his mortgage. So it's a little awkward to find the Omaha native stricken with Peter Pan syndrome on Cursive's sixth album, Mama, I'm Swollen.
  11. It’s definitely an improvement over "Happy Hollow," but the band has yet to reclaim the impulse that attracted so many of their fans in the first place.
  12. Mostly Mama comes filled with soul-aflame adolescent angst that generates lines like “I am the joke of existence / I am no one” with guitar squall to match.
  13. Diehard fans will continue to bray for "The Ugly Organ 2," but Swollen features better songs, stronger playing, and Dylan-level lyrics, making it the band's most cohesive work to date.
  14. Kasher has zero ability to or interest in dialing down his drama and giving Cursive’s highbrow emo rock room to breathe.
  15. 70
    Kasher is back to the microscope and black light, using willful musical twists to tear apart his own thirtysomething hypocrisy on this ambitious, kinda-grossly-titled sixth CD.
  16. Lyrically, frontman Tim Kasher never misses a step (see the men-as-animals 'From the Hips' and 'Donkeys'), proving once again why he's among indie rock's greats.
  17. For a band like Cursive to produce an album as self-pitying and mournful as Swollen is, frankly, a disappointment, especially considering the fact that the Omaha quartet tackled twenty-something melodrama with such delightful insolence on "Ugly Organ."
  18. Cursive's seventh LP, Mama, I'm Swollen, is just as transgressive as it is familiar.
  19. Kasher still embraces his flaws and while that may not work to the record's advantage when it does Cursive hits hard as ever.
  20. The songs were full of meaning and memories.

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