Pedro the Lion

Record Review

Phases and Stages

Pedro the Lion

Control (Jade Tree) Why in God's name is everybody obsessed with Pedro the Lion's David Bazan singing about religion? His first EP comes out on Tooth & Nail (a label unfairly snubbed in its own right), and Pedro the Lion is immediately Christian rock. Okay, so Bazan is a spiritual man. If his spirituality is where he draws his conviction, then it's one of his biggest assets, because deep, heartfelt, serious conviction is what Pedro the Lion brings to the table. Control's opener "Options" is one of the saddest, most sincere songs to come down the pipe in years. It dwells in the miserable gap between the perfect illusion of love and the painful reality of a flawed relationship, and its tearjerker breakup mood recalls Sebadoh's "Soul and Fire." The following song, "Rapture," is where Bazan & Co. begin to rock out, which they do even more here than on their last album, Winners Never Quit. "Rapture" is also where the religious references begin, and where they peak. And despite the hallelujah chorus ("Oh my sweet rapture, I hear Jesus calling me"), there's more than a little evidence that Bazan is being tongue-in-cheek. Interesting electronic squeals turn up on another highlight, "Indian Summer," holding the mood up before Bazan descends into decidedly un-Christian dens of sin, abuse, and infidelity. Bazan likes to ask the tough questions, wondering how much better off are the honest folks than the liars, the saints than the sinners. Somebody has to ask. It's the only way the real truth comes out. (Pedro the Lion plays Emo's Wednesday, May 15.)

***       

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