Release Date: Sep 1, 2009
Record label: Barsuk
Genre(s): Indie, Rock, Singer-Songwriter
Former Pedro The Lion frontman abandons character sketches for spiritual reflectionDavid Bazan used to be a character singer. Each record was like a collection of short stories —take, for example, Winners Never Quit, a concept album about a corrupt politician. Or Control’s “Rapture,” a detailed account of an extramarital affair. Or Achilles Heel’s “Discretion,” the story of a hitman hired by a farmer’s son to kill his father—except the hitman decides to kill the “asshole son” instead.
“I’m not sure if you know this, but my relationship with Christ has changed pretty dramatically in the last few years.” That’s how David Bazan greeted former publicist Jessica Hopper upon seeing her for the first time in half a decade, according to Hopper’s excellent profile of Bazan, which ran recently in the Chicago Reader. This statement, which only hints at the spiritual and existential crisis that consumed Bazan for the better part of five years, serves as an equally appropriate introduction to his latest full-length, Curse Your Branches. Once hailed as Christian indie rock’s great crossover hope, Bazan, a newly minted agnostic, now finds himself estranged from the movement that he once led.
David Bazan made no attempt to hide his Christianity with Pedro the Lion, so it's appropriate that Curse Your Branches -- his first full-length release as a solo artist -- begins with a reference to the Garden of Eden. "We ate the poison fruit," he sings over an acoustic guitar, "and now it's hard to be, hard to be, hard to be a decent human being." The rest of Curse Your Branches follows in that direction, with Bazan attempting to shore up his own faith in a world of sinful temptation. "Please, Baby, Please" is a folksy love song from an alcoholic husband, and "Bearing Witness" finds the narrator attempting to explain religion to his children.
It's not that unusual for musicians to discover God later in life and reinvent themselves as gospel performers. David Bazan, on the other hand, appears to have gone in the opposite direction. Best known as a Christian indie-pop artist during his days with Pedro the Lion, Bazan's first solo album has been called by some his breakup record about God. [rssbreak] Tackling his battles with alcohol and spirituality, Curse Your Branches is a deeply personal project, but resonates easily with both believers and non-believers.
There usually comes a day when you wake up, look around, and realise you're not a kid any more. And the day isn't always the day after your 30th birthday; it can be sooner, it can be later. But for most of us, that day will come. You realise that you've outgrown the trappings of your youth, the earnest stylings that are forged by the certainty that youth carries unknowingly on it's back.
It’s all alcohol and religion on David Bazan’s first solo LP, Curse Your Branches. Given his back catalogue with Pedro the Lion, Headphones, and two solo EPs, it’s no surprise. But this isn’t the Hold Steady pulpit he’s preaching from.
David Bazan David Bazan argues bitterly with God, and himself, on “Curse Your Branches” (Barsuk), his first solo album after leading Pedro the Lion for a decade. “If you knew what would happen and made us just the same/Then you, my lord, can take the blame,” he sings. It’s a startling ….