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June 30, 2004

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Destined to be one of the year's best releases, Pedro The Lion's Achilles Heel is a thoughtful, slow-burning album that is full of the concrete and the abstract - both lyrically and instrumentally. And, while it's not, however, quite the album that traditional Pedro fans were looking for (the artist promised some sort of resolution to his previous two concept albums released back to back), it is something to look forward to.

Combining tongue-in-cheek wit with a sobering look at humanity's place in the grand scheme of things, lead singer and songwriter David Bazan crafts an album that is filled with ambiguous, yet thought-provoking, subtleties. Achilles Heel asks more questions than it answers, but the fun is in the journey offered up by those ponderings. And, though the album is a smidgeon over 30 minutes, it's the taut lyrical landscapes that unravel slowly that gives this album a depth and breadth that surpasses many releases twice its size.

From the album's joshing poke at the music industry, "Band With Managers," to the lovelorn "Foregone Conclusions," and the Elbow-ish "The Fleecing" the eleven tracks on Achilles Heel are an amalgamation of excellence in creativity and intelligence - and those are just the first three tunes. "Transcontinental" and "I Do" are also top shelf selections, as is "A Simple Plan." It's not easy to make an album that is so chock-full of goodness, but somehow Pedro The Lion has done it, and with ease.

Make no mistake, in 2004, Pedro The Lion is the king of the Indie Rock/Folk jungle - despite his deftness at defying simple descriptions and easy categorizations. If bands with managers are truly going places, as Pedro espouses on the opening track, then let's hope Pedro's got a great one, because it would be a shame for an album this magnificent to fall into obscurity.

Up & Coming Weekly

Brian Dukes