Release Date: Jan 18, 2019
Record label: Polyvinyl
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Alternative Pop/Rock
Revered in much the same way as Mike or Tim Kinsella, Blake Schwarzenbach or Conor Oberst , his introspective, almost auteur-like regard to his song-writing has allowed Bazan to create some of the most intelligent, if not immediately accessible, records of the last 25 years. With Bazan's approach to his songcraft being that of almost a solo artist (writing every part, playing every instrument) the songs, often sung in the first person, harbour highly personal yet deeply resonate narratives. The result was a fiercely devoted fanbase, though not so much the musicians that played the tracks live.
It was just coincidence that David Bazan dropped his Pedro the Lion moniker in 2006, around the same time he "deconverted" from Christianity. But the latter seemed to feed into the former, and when Bazan's solo output--five albums since 2009--exceeded the four LPs that Pedro the Lion had released between 1998-2004, it seemed like the band was over for good. Turns out it was just a long break: Bazan revived the band in 2017 and now Pedro the Lion is back with Phoenix, the singer's first new album as Pedro in 15 years.
I've always marvelled at the Japanese practice of Kintsugi. When pottery breaks, the shards aren't thrown in the bin, but carefully reconstructed and glued together to honour the object's mileage and trauma. This beautiful marriage of craftsmanship with deep philosophy is more tangible than the act of writing songs, but in its essence, it's the same thing.
David Bazan has a rich history of self-sabotage. As the last century slid into this one, Bazan's recording project, Pedro the Lion, seemed of a piece with an indie rock tide drifting toward crossover success. Over songs that flirted with emo and slowcore and flitted between acoustic lamentation and electrified frustration, he asked hard questions of religion, love, industry, and economy, snarling in a burly monotone.
It's one of life's ironies that David Bazan felt he had to drop his moniker as Pedro The Lion to 'go solo', and then 15 years later is bringing it back in order to rediscover himself. Introspection has always been the realm of Bazan and his brusque distressed tone, and Phoenix sees him return not just to a name, but to a place and the version of himself he left there. The music, too, with those classic strained vocals and burly riffs, are focused in the rear-view mirror as Bazan tries to get "finally home." This sense of rediscovering his roots is the topic of 'Leaving the Valley', which is full of wonderment about home.
Following a 15-year gap that yielded a prolific if occasionally spotty solo career, David Bazan revives his Pedro the Lion moniker for a deeply reflective, though pleasingly muscular full-band album. In late 2005, one year after the release of their fourth album, Achilles Heel, the mercurial songsmith retired the band name, which for all intents and purposes had represented his lone artistic vision, opting instead to continue working under his given name. During Pedro the Lion's decade of existence, literally dozens of players cycled through the band's ranks with just a few (T.W.
Rating: NNNN It's been 15 years since Seattle's Pedro the Lion released a full-length record. The band is the brainchild of David Bazan, a notoriously affecting songwriter with a predilection for personalized narration. With the obviously titled Phoenix, Bazan's revival of Pedro the Lion is characterized by what has made the band a cult classic of sorts: a gentle, generous dive into the past, which translates hauntingly into the future.
Phoenix by Pedro The Lion David Bazan is thinking about the past in this first Pedro the Lion album in 15 years, looking back beyond his early band years to the childhood experiences that still shape and haunt him half a lifetime later. Phoenix refers both to the town where he grew up and the mythical regenerating bird, but Bazan has no penchant for rising out of the ashes; instead he pokes at long-ago short comings, looking for any possible explanation for where he has ended up all these years later. Pedro the Lion was always Bazan and whoever else came along for the ride.