Pedro the Lion [I]Achilles Heel[/I] Review

Born-again indie-rocker David Bazan (the key songwriter and only permanent member of Pedro the Lion) has crafted yet another morose album of despondent songs. Bazan, who is a devout Christian, doesn’t preach a clean lifestyle or dedicate his music to his Savior: he writes songs that question and challenge his faith. He mentions both the Devil and the Lord on Achilles Heel, but there’s also plenty about drinking and carrying on.

Elliott Smith wrote some sad songs; so have Lou Barlow and Mac McCaughan of Superchunk. But Bazan takes despair a step farther with lyrics that deal in death, decay, and hopelessness. His voice comes out as a slow moan aching with misery. In "Transcontinental," a paralyzed man has his legs amputated. In the exquisite "I Do," a woman contemplates how her marriage has caused her to bury her dreams and live vicariously through her son. "Foregone Conclusions," the only thing close to an upbeat tune here, is nonetheless brought down by the sad undercurrent in Bazan’s voice that seems bred in his very bones. What saves Pedro the Lion from being merely another outlet for emo-boy angst is Bazan’s talent as a composer, and lyrics that cut deeper than simply bemoaning the loss of some girl with bangs and horn-rimmed eyeglasses. Despite the inescapable sadness of Achilles Heel, it’s a lovely release.

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