David Bazan
Curse Your Branches


4.5
superb

Review

by Andrew H. EMERITUS
September 1st, 2009 | 37 replies | 9,843 views


Release Date: 2009 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Formerly Pedro the Lion, David Bazan abandons his faith and writes the best record of his career.

It seems a long time ago that David Bazan was the bad boy of Christian music. Which is not to say that the music he made with his former band Pedro the Lion readily resembles much of the output of the Christian music industry. Or even to suggest that he was part of said industry in any way, shape or form. But Bazan was never shy about his faith, and simultaneously never shy about taking on difficult topics through songwriting that was sometimes personal but often centred around fictional characters dealing with everyday struggles. Far from the stereotypical Christian songwriter, Bazan didn't seem to care who you were, what you believed or what you thought about him. Certainly, a typical Christian songwriter would never write lines like "you were too busy steering the conversation/toward the Lord to hear the voice of the Spirit/begging you to shut the *** up". When Bazan revealed in fairly recent interviews that he no longer considers himself a Christian and now considers himself an agnostic, the Christian fans of his music were saddened but it's doubtful that anyone was surprised.

It's strange that the loss of his perhaps most defining characteristic has yielded the best set of songs of Bazan's career. A recent Chicago Reader piece described Curse Your Branches as a breakup album; Bazan's breakup with God and certainly, every song is about that subject. "Did you push us/When we fell?" he asks God on "When We Fell". And while Curse Your Branches is probably the most conceptual record Bazan has ever written, it feels less like it than any Pedro the Lion release because it doesn't take the listener on any sort of journey. It begins with doubt , questioning and a hint of bittnerness and ends the exact same way.

Bazan's lyrics here are clever and personal, as is to be expected. Musically, the bouncy, mid-tempo, country-tinged arrangements of Bazan's earlier EP Fewer Moving Parts are further developed and in almost every instance they work. The one misstep is the aforementioned "When We Fell", which is perhaps the most bitter song of the set. The understated acoustic version that Bazan was playing live in the lead-up to Curse Your Branches was far more effective in delivering the emotion present in the lyrics. Much of that is lost in the up-beat bluesy arrangement of the album version. Still, the greatest asset Bazan has is his own blue-collar voice which is unique and perfect fit for the words and music. It's hard to imagine anyone else singing these songs.

Regardless of the circumstances surrounding its creation, Curse Your Branches is Bazan's best album to date. Over 10 years since the release of the first Pedro the Lion album, Bazan remains one of the most consistent, singular and interesting figures in indie rock.



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user ratings (58)
Chart.
4
excellent
other reviews of this album
Adam Thomas STAFF (4.5)
The former Pedro the Lion singer embraces his doubts....


Comments:Add a Comment 
mx
Moderator
September 1st 2009



733 Comments


It's interesting that he described himself as an agnostic while writing an album almost entirely devoted to God.

Tits McGee
September 1st 2009



1876 Comments


I've never checked out Pedro The Lion but this sounds pretty cool

br3ad_man
Emeritus
September 1st 2009



2125 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

It's interesting that he described himself as an agnostic while writing an album almost entirely devoted to God.


I thought that too, especially when nearly every song seems to address God personally.

IndieGuitarist
September 1st 2009



149 Comments


i love pedro the lion, this sounds so good

mynameischan
Staff Reviewer
September 1st 2009



17911 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

need this

Waior
September 1st 2009



11420 Comments


Pedro the Lion was excellent, will get this.

killrobotmusic
September 1st 2009



670 Comments


Looks up my alley, I'm in.

Eskate87
September 1st 2009



959 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

this will be getting a 5 from be undoubtedly. Im a fan of everything Bazan does. Great stuff.

Athom
Staff Reviewer
September 2nd 2009



17114 Comments


I agree with everything you said.

Digging: Sad Lovers and Giants - Feeding the Flame

DeadToPain
September 2nd 2009



694 Comments


Well, I think as a long-time agnostic, I may be able to shed some light into his feelings. He may personally refer and "talk" to God on this album, but he may not be sure the "God" he was worshiping is the one he believed in. Agnostic means that spiritually; one doesn't know what they believe. I've listened to this album, and that's the impression I've gotten. Just a thought...

MentalityOfA
September 2nd 2009



1213 Comments


If he now considers himself an Agnostic, then he was never a Christian.

Digging: Chevelle - La Gargola

Athom
Staff Reviewer
September 2nd 2009



17114 Comments


that's the dumbest thing I've ever heard.

Ulsufyring
September 2nd 2009



1725 Comments


no i think he makes a valid point crazy people shouldn't get to voice their opinions about religion

Athom
Staff Reviewer
September 2nd 2009



17114 Comments


nice hat.

Ulsufyring
September 2nd 2009



1725 Comments


i named her vera.

DeadToPain
September 2nd 2009



694 Comments


I don't think that it's fair to say that someone changing their opinion is anyway a fault of their own. Who knows what they've seen or done in their personal life? It's called growing and changing.

AtavanHalen
September 2nd 2009



17927 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

Fuck, man, this is just great.

Athom
Staff Reviewer
September 2nd 2009



17114 Comments


It really is.

AtavanHalen
September 2nd 2009



17927 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

I was on Spinner.com and clicked onto this in the album streams because I didn't want to listen to Scarlett Johannson (sp?). I'm so fucking glad I did, man.

DeadToPain
September 2nd 2009



694 Comments


I'm not trying to make a huge debate out of this, I just think that religion can be stifling to people. It's hard not to think twice about it.



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