Pedro The Lion
Control CD - Jade Tree

When Jade Tree began labeling the forthcoming Pedro The Lion album as a “rock record,” ears perked up all over the place. Pedro The Lion has always been the brainchild of David Bazan, who is the band’s only permanent member and has often toured completely on his own, making things more folk than rock. Naturally, it was interesting to imagine his songs with the backing of a full rock-band sound. Aiding that sound this time around is Seldom’s Casey Foubert, and the change is far from disappointing. ¶ In the same vein as Winners Never Quit, this is a concept album of sorts, pondering a “hyper-modern marriage gone wrong,” from infidelity to murder and everything in between, including the superficialities of today’s material world (“Magazine”). The album reads like a novel: a husband is unfaithful, leaving his wife alone with the children and the effects of her husband’s drinking, and it all leads to her ending everything with one final and desperate act. “Rejoice” has the final say, with Bazan singing, “Wouldn’t it be so wonderful if everything weren’t meaningless/ But everything is so meaningful, and most everything turns to shit.” The chorus cries of “rejoice” make you wonder what it all was supposed to mean. ¶ Control is also Bazan’s most evolved creation thus far. Familiar themes of melancholy and detachment remain, but it is all beefed up with robust guitar and bass work, roaring drums, and Bazan’s howls. Songs like the excellent “Rapture”, “Penetration” and “Rehearsal” put these new and heavier elements to the test with their straightforward rock vibes, and they pass with flying colors. Meanwhile, Bazan’s voice remains the focal point, as he growls and whimpers, teetering between anger and sadness. The dark and lovely “Second Best” is the perfect example, as it begins with a whimper, builds to a growl, and ends in a wall of guitar. The production and studio trickery has matured as well. Take the remake of “Progress” (also known as “April 6, 2039”) for example, which features the eerily distorted and robotic vocals of Bazan as the introduction. There is also the playful synthesizer of “Indian Summer”. ¶ It is odd to look forward to and enjoy something this miserable. “You’re gonna die, we’re all gonna die/ Could be twenty years, could be tonight,” Bazan sings on “Priests and Paramedics”, set to a rather upbeat song structure. The dreary imagery Bazan uses to make his point is not the stuff of happy pop songs, but it makes you think, which is more than can be said of most music these days. It could very well depress the hell out of you, but at least your misery will have a gorgeous soundtrack. (Eddie Fournier)



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