Pedro The Lion

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It's Hard To Find A Friend , 6.5/10
Winners Never Quit , 6/10
Control, 6/10
Achilles Heel (2004), 5/10
David Bazan: Headphones (2005), 5.5/10
David Bazan: Curse Your Branches (2009), 5.5/10
David Bazan: Strange Negotiations (2011) , 5/10
David Bazan: Blanco (2016), 4/10
David Bazan: Dark Sacred Night (2016) , 4/10
David Bazan: Care (2017), 4/10
Phoenix (2019) , 4/10

Pedro The Lion is the project of Seattle-resident David Bazan, a long-time associate of songwriter Damien Jurado. A four-piece line-up recorded the debut EP, Whole (Tooth & Nail, 1997), immersed in anemic dirges like Whole and Nothing with traces of Codeine's slo-core (Almost There and Lullaby).

The album It's Hard To Find A Friend (Made In Mexico, 1998 - Jade Tree, 2001), recorded by the lone Bazan, perfected this kind of lo-fi slo-core and enhanced it with melodic hooks worthy of Magnetic Fields: Big Trucks, When They Really Get To Know You, Of Minor Prophets And Their Prostitute Wives. The lyrics manifest Bazan's intellectual wit and his willingness to take on thorny subjects.

The EP The Only Reason I Feel Secure , with the catchy albeit slow Invention and Criticism As Inspiration, is a deign appendix. The reissued The Only Reason I Feel Secure (Jade Tree, 2001) also contains the first single.

David Bazan played all instruments on Winners Never Quit (Jade Tree, 2000), an eight-song concept album about a corrupted politician. His moral tales (the angry and acoustic Bad Things To Such Good People, the sarcastic Slow and Steady Wins the Race, the scathing Never Leave A Job Half Done) prevail over the music. Simple Economics, Winners Never Quit and A Mind Of Her Own showcase a balance of lyrical and musical intents, but overall Bazan is becoming too serious for his own sake.

(Translation by/ Tradotto da Massimiliano Osini)

Pedro The Lion e' il progetto di David Bazan, proveniente da Seattle e per lungo tempo associato al compositore Damien Jurado. Con una formazione a quattro il gruppo registro' l'EP d'esordio, Whole (Tooth & Nail, 1997), immerso in anemici canti funebri quali Whole e Nothing con tracce dello slow core dei Codeinea (Almost There e Lullaby).

L'album It's Hard To Find A Friend (Made In Mexico, 1998 - Jade Tree, 2001) perfeziono' questo lo-fi slow-core e lo miglioro' con agganci melodici degni di Magnetic Fields: Big Trucks, When They Really Get To Know You, Of Minor Prophets And Their Prostitute Wives. I testi manifestano tutto l'acume intellettuale di Bazan e la sua buona volonta' nel farsi carico di soggetti spinosi.

L'EP The Only Reason I Feel Secure, con le orecchiabili, per quanto lente Invention e Criticism As Inspiration, ne e' la degna appendice.

David Bazan suona tutti gli strumenti su Winners Never Quit (Jade Tree, 2000), un concept album di otto canzoni incentrato sulla figura di un politico corrotto. Le sue storie morali (l'arrabbiata e acustica Bad Things To Such Good People, la sarcastica Slow and Steady Wins the Race, l'aspra Never Leave A Job Half Done) prevalgono sulla musica. Simple Economics, Winners Never Quit e A Mind Of Her Own mostrano un equilibriato connubio di propensioni liriche e musicali, ma nel complesso Bazan sta divenendo troppo serio per la sua propria causa.

Control (Jade Tree, 2002) is Pedro The Lion's "rock" (and loud) album Unfortunately, David Bazan is taking his writing very seriously, to the point of neglecting the music. Literate songs like Indian Summer and Second Best are musical failures, while intriguing musical endeavours such as Rapture, Penetration and Priests and Paramedics are powerful and captivating, but lyrical oddities.

Bazan, the master of pathos, seems incapable of stirring emotions on Achilles Heel (Jade Tree, 2004). While in theory this should be the first Pedro The Lion album in a while that is not anchored to a central theme, the songs come through as too uniform and, ultimately, monotonous. With the notable exceptions of the elegant dirge Bands With Managers and the murder ballad Discretion, Maybe he's trying too hard with the lyrics, that sometimes seem more appropriate to a movie script than to a pop song. We are better off imagining the plot of Transcontinental than humming its chorus. If it is not blue-collar rock and it is not confessional rock, what is it? This is music in need of more interesting arrangements.

Headphones (Suicide Squeeze, 2005) is an all-electronic collaboration between Pedro The Lion's David Bazan and TW Walsh (with drums by Starflyer 59's Frank Lenz). This is still mostly a Pedro The Lion album, as attested by Gas and Matches, Shit Talker and Hot Girls that easily outdo the average song on the mediocre Achilles Heel. But it doesn't change the fact that one has to make an effort not to listen to Bazan's lyrics (yet another stereotyped lyricist who thinks of himself as a groundbreaking bard, or, worse, an erudite historian). Focusing on the music, one is much relieved, as the synthesizer duo plus drums is indeed an intriguing chamber orchestra for pop music. Unfortunately, half the songs do not live up to the concept. Had Bazan removed the filler, it would have been a very nice EP.

Curse Your Branches (Barsuk, 2009), the first album credited to David Bazan, is a brutally honest chronicle of his religious doubts, and feels like an anti-Christian concept. Musically, the style is the simple and straightforward folk-pop of the Pedro The Lion albums minus the musicians plus electronic keyboards. Other than the sincerity of the stories, there is little to write about. The melodies are either trivial or dejavu. Hard to Be and In Stiches break the monotony.

A more robust backing tries to salvage the fragile songs of Strange Negotiations (2011), none of which really justifies the purpose of its existence.

While Bazan continued his solo career with Blanco (2016), Dark Sacred Night (2016) and Care (2017), other members of Pedro The Lion went on to play with Death Cab for Cutie, Fleet Foxes, and the Shins. Bazan released Phoenix (2019) as a Pedro the Lion album but it was really just another solo album with a new rhtyhm section.

(Translation by/ Tradotto da xxx)

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