Bands recording for the Omaha, Neb., label Saddle Creek have a frustrating history of pursuing grandiose conceptual works that never truly break from the narrowly textured Emo rock that has come to define the label. The Good Life, helmed by Cursive frontman Tim Kasher, find themselves falling into a similar pattern with “Help Wanted Nights,” a set of confessional folk rockers depicting the after hours misadventures of a small-town bar.
The lyrics are often painfully earnest and articulate the sort of narcissistic self pity felt by the habitual barroom romantic; this bar is inhabited only by lovelorn post-grads wallowing in the dullness of small town life. A simple four piece lineup of guitar, keyboard, bass and drums is employed to provide subtle accompaniment, but the Good Life never really sound like an authentic bar band. The production is clean and crisp, void of the volatility or ambience one might associate with the album’s subject matter and a dull sense of complacency pervades many of these songs. Musically, “Nights” evokes a vapid Midwestern landscape, but does so without adding cultural vibrancy or intriguing plot twists.