Rhythm & Views

Pedro the Lion

David Bazan writes songs that document the basic stages of life: childhood, marriage, childbirth, divorce, drunken bouts of depression. Each record has a theme, and Achilles' Heel is, obviously, about weakness. Achilles' Heel is looser and musically more upbeat than Pedro the Lion's previous records, but don't expect any sunshine in the lyrics.

In Bazan's songs, even the happiest moments are weighted with despair--a child is born, but the father still "sits in (his) bedroom alone with a shotgun." There is Kryptonite lurking around every corner. Bazan's songs are biblical in the Old Testament sense; terrible things happen, set to simple and distorted rock riffs. A farmer finds his son's dead body being ravaged by vultures, a man's legs are crushed by a tree, and he chops them off himself.

Even though every song sounds just like every other Pedro the Lion song (he must write them all in the same key or something), Bazan and fellow musicians TW Walsh and James McAlister (also of Ester Drang) have added a few more tricks to spice things up. "Keep Swinging" has a classic rock vibe to it, and "A Simple Plan" carries the melody from synth to acoustic guitar to electric guitar. The whole thing wraps up with "The Poison," with Bazan singing the refrain, "Now it's over and I can't stay sober"--a true example of Pedro the Lion's apathetic and destructive side. Herein lies the appeal of songs like this: Remember, it could always be worse.

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