Pedro the Lion

Phoenix

Written by: LL on 28/03/2019 17:24:49

David Bazan's indie rock band Pedro the Lion has been defunct since 2006 but in 2017 he started performing under the moniker again and now in 2019 we finally have a new album as well. "Phoenix" is the fifth full-length and marks the first Pedro the Lion release in 15 years. It presents us with 45 minutes of introspective and emotional indie songs in Bazan's signature style. While some of his records have been recorded solo with him playing every instrument, this time he has help from Erik Walters on guitar and backing vocals, and Sean Lane on drums.

The album paints Bazan's childhood set in Phoenix - the Valley of the Sun - and wraps the songs between the titles "Sunrise" and "Leaving the Valley" that begin and end the record. As such, it feels very much like a pocket of time, that we get dragged into. The heat of the South is almost tangible in the warm production and the smoldering guitar backing that dominates many songs. This lends itself well to the heavy nostalgia that drives every song forward and is beautifully carried by Bazan's broken voice, constantly reminiscing about lost innocence. Songs like "Yellow Bike" and "Circle K" are prime examples of this in different ways. "Yellow Bike" tells a more carefree story of getting your first bike, the beat and tone both underlining the more happy times surrounding this. The slowly moving "Circle K" on the other hand speaks of regret around the topic of having used your allowance buying meaningless things and does so with a much more melancholy tone and more angsty fluttering vocals.

The album convincingly delivers a nuanced emotional experience of how it feels to be looking back on different times with a more adult perspective. Many of the songs combine this with pleasant guitar riffs and low-key catchy melodies, like the upbeat "Clean Up" or the rock 'n' roll "My Phoenix", but it's the more emotionally tricky songs that stand out the most over time. Especially the single "Model Homes" encapsulates the album's theme of looking for your home through reminiscing, and does so with some haunting guitar lines that stand out over the more stripped down framework. The noisy "Quietest Friend" about friendship and bullying, and finally the longer "Black Canyon" about a suicide truck accident that unwinds everyone involved are indeed some of the best songs I've heard this year.

"Phoenix", then, is a fragile gem that truly manages to pull in the listener to consider themes of finding a home as well as finding oneself. Throughout its 45 minutes, it transports you to another time and place and as a concept record, it provides a very cohesive listening experience. Some songs do have more staying power than others but it's definitely worth a couple of full spins for any indie rock fan, as just picking out single songs won't give quite the right impression of the project.

Download: Black Canyon, Model Homes, Quietest Friend, Clean Up
For The Fans Of: Cursive, Rainer Maria, Death Cab For Cutie
Listen: facebook.com/pedrothelion

Release date 18.01.2019
Big Scary Monsters

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