Following a more exuberant sophomore LP that diverged from his debut with conspicuous synths, Cursive and the Good Life frontman Tim Kasher returns to a more orchestral palette for his third solo album, No Resolution. Its 15 tracks also serve as a soundtrack to a film by the same name, Kasher's debut as a writer/director. A character drama revolving around a strained relationship between fiancés, it's an anxious set with lyrics that struggle with trust, hope, and existential meaning. The proper songs among those tracks, which also contain short, scene-setting instrumentals and a few reprises, are easy to imagine as a chamber rock musical, with strong vocal lines leading the way. Piano, strings, guitar, drums, vibraphone, synths, and a few other instruments are more prominent on some tunes than others but never interfere. "Runts" sets the stage with guitar, vibraphone, and ride cymbal in rhythmic unison until the rhythm section takes over to accompany Kasher, who opens with "I get so restless I feel trapped inside my body." Strings and electric guitar eventually flesh out the catchy, rambling tune that repeats the phrase "settle down" in different contexts. Ominous, unresolved chords end the song, which contemplates having children while referencing anti-anxiety meds and decomposing. The punky "No Secret" relies on full drum kit and guitars but also incorporates strings and keys ("I got a fever I can't shake/I got a sickness I ain't gonna quit"). The dramatic tension continues through the off-kilter ballad "Holding Out" and druggy, meandering "Hollow." It adds warped synths and trumpets to textured guitar, strings, and timekeeping electronic tones and mallet percussion. Through it all, Kasher offers affecting material that's persistently tense but also loose and lively. Things don't appear to end well given a closer called "Not Over You," but a Hollywood ending was never in the cards, even without the soundtrack title's warning.
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AllMusic Review by Marcy Donelson