Review Summary: If you have never heard of Pedro the Lion and would like to see if they are worth your time, check out this album first. It is easy to enjoy tracks such as Discretion and Transcontinental.
Pedro the Lion. A band often unheard of, but that says nothing about their brilliance. In this, thier final album, Achilles Heel, the band has a much more accessible sound than previous albums. Yet, also unlike other albums, this one does not have a specific message. Though, that does not mean this is any less an album compared to previous ones.
Achilles Heel begins with the track Bands with managers, containing very confronting yet soft vocals. Slow drums pound while tamborine, keyboard and bass add some girth and David Bazan's slightly overdriven guitar and vocals cover the rest of the soundscape. His reference to "T.W. Walsh" is about how when he used to ride with him, T.W. Walsh driving, he would worry about crashing, but that he no longer does. Though, David never has said if he is actually referencing to a band with the rest of the lyrics. This track is simple, and strightforward, and it is one of my favorite songs on the album.
Next, Forgone Conclusions. The mix is done well, and the lyrics are good, but I think the track is too short. It seems like more could have been added.
Third, The Fleecing. This song uses double tracking of vocals well. Though it can seem odd in parts, it works very well in others. The underlying Synth adds a nice touch to the track. The lyrics are, again, well thought and placed. Overall though, there are better tracks on the album.
Discretion is the next track. If not for Transcontinental, this would be the crowning achievement of the cd. The lyrics are extremely well thought and placed with the music. It is also one of the more interesting tracks since the lyrics play out a story about a farmer who finds his son dead after several days of lying there. The guitar tone is also very nice, and the drums are well mixed. Definatly a winner.
Arizona, the next track, is an interesting track. The lyrics are about the southwest states, as if they were people. This sounds a lot odder here than it does in the song, I know. It is one of the slower songs on the cd, and a good song to just listen to and relax. The lyrics, though, are somewhat odd in my opinion when nearing the end, a chant about "rock crushes scissors, scissors fall apart," but the way he sings it makes it sound good. An OK track.
The next track is Keep Swinging. This is a very interesting song, the bass line is pretty cool, and the lyrics are about someone being very drunk, and overall a cool track to listen to. The feel that is portrayed in the instrumentation is very much fitting to the lyrics.
The winner of this album however, is the next track, Transcontinental. The mix, the lyrics, and David Bazan's voice all fit perfectly. There is not much else to say other than this is probably the one track on the cd worth the money for the whole album. A perfect example of what David Bazan is capable of.
Next is I Do. It starts with a synth soundscape, and then the song comes in. It has good lyrics, as most of Bazan's work, and is well played out. Nothing really particularly remarkable about the song, but it is an alright track.
A Simple Plan is the next song on the album. The lyrics are another high point for this song, it is about living a conformative life with everyone, doing what you are needed to do and everyone is equal. But he isn't sure he can. Either the second or third best track on the album, great instrumentation and it is easy to "see" what he is singing.
Start without me is the second to last track. This song is comparable to Forgone Conclusions as far as the job on the song, it is well done and the lyrics have meaning.
And, the final track, The Poison is unfortunatly my least favorite song on the album. But, the final line is it's saving grace. "My old man always swore that hell would have no flames, just a front row seat to watch your true love pack her things, and drive away." It sends the album out with a strong swing.