Review Summary: The strongest Pedro the Lion album, in my opinion. It is a really great album experience and I would recommend this to anyone interested in indie rock with very well thought out lyrics.
Undeniably, this is the album that defines what music good means to me. It is lyrically, instrumentally, and conceptually what I look for in an album as a whole.
To begin with, this is certainly a departure from what Pedro the Lion had previously done. This was the only truly "angry" album David Bazan ever wrote, it is loaded with distorted guitars and crashing cymbals throughout, along with his tounge in cheek satirical lyrics. The lyrical content of the album is about society and the modern world, businesses, etc, and all of it's corruption. Take your opinions on how some of these issues are portrayed in this album, but it is undeniable that he is truly sincere in how he presents every song on this album. Albeit, this is somewhat of a depressing album as a whole.
I won't do a track by track analysis, but I will point out the key songs, for me.
Track one, Options. This is likely my favorite song by Pedro. It is perfectly blunt in it's presentation, lyric wise and instrumentally. It's simplicity is what is best about it. It's message is truly striking to me, because it is so revealing about what love is for so many in today's world. Yet, it is done so simply. I must say, I really do admire David Bazan's ability to write music.
Track two is another stand out track. Rapture. It is definitely less mellow than the previous track, with synthesizers in the background and more heavily driven guitars. The lyrics are about a husband cheating on his wife and though it is likely a metaphorical representation, how he would expect to be saved during the rapture while living his life of lies. As most of Bazan's writing, it is story based.
I might as well mention track 3 as well, considering it is likely the heaviest Pedro the Lion song, well at least composition wise. Very heavily distorted guitar, very heavily beaten drums both show a huge departure from previous Pedro material. If you heard some of their early stuff and then heard this, you would think I am joking if I told you they are the same band. What is, however, in common, is the strong lyrical content which has always been a basis for their stuff.
Other songs such as Indian Summer, and Priests and Paramedics are among the strongest on the album. Though, I don't really consider there anything less than strong songs throughout this album, these are just ones I would recommend listening to first. The album closes with Rejoice, which is up for interpretation as to it's meaning. It can be taken either sarcastically, or as sincere in it's line "Wouldn't it be so wonderful if everything were meaningless? But everything is so meaningful." David Bazan himself has said he does not have a set position on what it means, so it's what it strikes you as that is the correct interpretation.
So to sum things up, I feel it is the strongest Pedro the Lion album in all aspects, and would highly recommend this to anyone interested in them at all. Or indie rock as a whole for that matter. It is one of my favorite albums of any genre.