May 26, 2004
PEDRO THE LION [I]ACHILLES HEEL[/I] REVIEW
Simply put, Pedro The Lion have finished the album of their career. After the substantial success of Control (Jade Tree, 2002) it was just a matter of time before PTL-mastermind David Bazan would actualize his full potential. Though, Bazan, as always, is far too humble to see this particular forest for the trees; “I just wrote some songs and set out to present them in the clearest, most straightforward way possible.” Regardless of his modesty, Achilles Heel is classic, richly crafted and deceptively sweet, lyrically as sharp as ever.
While examining dirty fray of the American dream, Achilles Heel is varied affair. While the past two albums were concept-narratives, the new album is more in line with with PTL’s debut, It’s Hard to Find a Friend topical, and not hinged on telling a linear tale, though it retains traces of the personal-political. “There is a sexist subtext, comments in the songs made from that perspective. The wife in “I Do” who is reduced to a function. In “Discretion”, the wife sleeps in her husband’s bed .The male voice in most of these songs are buckling under a patriarchal pressure,” explains Bazan. Quiet, firm examinations of resignation and bravery waft from the paralyzed man on Transcontinental, to the more explicit pean in “A Simple Plan” of a father who’s breadwinner function is relieved by the dawn of communism“ It's such a simple plan/ to take it like a man/ but I'm not sure I can/ we fought for a decade corruption and greed/ it gave me a purpose a reason to breathe.” Regarding his decision to eschew the direct dogma and musical heaviness of the last two albums, “Without pretense, I wanted to un-concept things a bit. I think I had a bit of a musical identity crisis,” Bazan laughs “So I just returned to what I knew, which meant making a record that was not so heavy-handed, and not about spending a year on it. I just wanted people to be able to hear how much fun TW (Walsh) and I had making it.”
While a return to classic simplicity, both the songwriting and production, maintain a lush depth. Recorded over a month’s time at his home studio in rural Washington State, Bazan was aided by multi-instrumentalist and longtime collaborator TW Walsh and label-mate James McAlister of Ester Drang on drums. Achilles Heel exudes a dulcet spontaneity, clearly communicating David Bazan’s vision: Unfettered by excess -- Pedro the Lion flourishes.
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