Review Summary: It's not like it wasn't all for you, but like everything I do it's misunderstood.
Looking back on it, Pedro The Lion's Achilles Heel
is a fascinating look at the evolution of David Bazan – not only as a musician but also as a living, breathing organism on this earth. It's fitting that this was the last album released under the Pedro moniker as the former youth group-gone-indie sound of his previous work had pretty much disappeared at this point. Sure, Bazan always had his doubts, they were what made him “him” you could say, but Achilles Heel
always seemed like more of an affirmation to rebuke his own wandering soul than a cry of praise for those in doubt. His chastising of his fellow practitioners had gone from the back to basics hesitation of “The Secret of the Easy Yoke” to such biting lines as “...You were to busy steering the conversation toward the Lord to hear the voice of the spirit begging you to shut the *** up,” in “Foregone Conclusions”. Even his most steadfast moments of faith on Achilles Heel
are consumed by uncertainty. Despite the comforting melody of the chorus of “The Fleecing”, his exasperated release of “...And I can't think it like I feel it and I don't feel a thing” makes it seem as though the only person he's trying to convince is his self. To this day Bazan is his own one man game of tug of war, but Achilles Heel
is the sound of two competing ideologies – the tradition that you know versus the truth you feel – both staking claims to the man at the other's expense, a messy internal dialogue that lead us to the hauntingly intimate schism of Curse Your Branches
That's not to say that all of Achilles Heel
is a drawn out passion play. The album also does its best to expound on the darker elements of previous Pedro the Lion outings such as Winners Never Quit
's morose family tale with the “Discretion” continuing on deeper into the realm of death and red handed family politics. Tracks like “The Poison” also delve into Bazan's own follies, in this case alcoholism. Bazan's never shied away from presenting himself as nothing more than a broken man stumbling through life despite his best efforts to hinder himself, and “The Poison” is that “first step” song of admittance. It all comes together to create a vivid document of the man. Driven by his own doubts and confusions, Achilles Heel
is David Bazan trying to sort himself out in the only way he knows how: writing damn good songs.