The subtitle of this compilation, "Lost Songs and Loose Ends 1995-2001," might very well be replaced by a big, blood-red "FANS ONLY" stamp. The twelve tracks collected here bring together the band's stray seven-inch sides and unreleased tracks -- a fact that, by design, will attract only the most obsessive troops in the Cursive army. The Pixies-on-crank opener, "Dispenser," the earliest track of the bunch, stands out for the streamlined combination of early Cursive's best traits: rising guitar leads, fuck-off lyrics and vocal eruptions. Perhaps the most remarkable thing about Houses and Homes is seen when charting the growth from these chaotic, buzzy songs to the more recent cello-fied, cinematic suites. Young Tim Kasher had not yet discovered that his panting whispers (a hallmark of Domestica and The Ugly Organ) are far more piercing and unsettling than his strained screams.
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