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Pedro the Lion
Pedro the Lion’s Dave Bazan is a rare find: a singer who can talk about God without making you feel as if you’re experiencing a revival campaign aimed at pot-smoking Pearl Jam disciples. I’m looking at you, Scott Stapp. Control is more of what Pedro does best: submerged hooks, haunting lyrics, and spare tunes you aren’t sure you like until you realize that you know all the words. It’s a concept album in the good way, a well-told story about an immoral company man who, during adulterous climax, proclaims, “She screams for more/Oh my sweet rapture/I hear Jesus calling me home.” Stick that in your wide-open arms and smoke it. This album alternates between sweet, quiet melodies and heavy rockers, the latter mixing soft pauses and heavy guitar. Throughout, Bazan’s even, firm voice sells the message by making it sound as though he’s not even in business. In “Priests/Paramedics,” guitars crescendo into a perfect chorus as a defeated minister tells his flock: “You’re gonna die/We’re all going to die.” You’ve heard it before, but this time you can’t help but stop and listen; when you find a religiously tinged, guitar-driven concept album this good, you should just be thankful. “Have you ever met successful men who keep in touch with unsuccessful friends?” Bazan wonders, before giving us a moment to think. “You only think you did/and I could have sworn I started to/but as it turns out it was just a clever ad for cigarettes.” Kierkegaard would be proud. Not to mention Naomi Klein. —Brian Montopoli