Front Page – David Bazan
But it was only in my head
because no one ever says
what they really mean to say
when there’s so much at stake
I’ve spent a lot of time recently to listen to David Bazan and his old band Pedro the Lion. Maybe it was the winter in Berlin, or the autumn that started it all. But rainy days and long nights call for suitable music. Some might say Placebo would be the right choice. I agree, if you are some kind of suicidal psychopath who wants to kill off every remaining ray of light within oneself.
Between 1995 and 2005 Bazan released 5 albums under his moniker Pedro the Lion. And in all honesty, I find it very hard to pin down my personal favorite – though „Control“ might just edge it because of the distorted guitar sounds. The lyrics send shivers down my spine. Combining his gritty voice, the beforementioned guitar sound and the direct drums, this is as fantastic a record, as I can imagine. „Options“ is a wonderful song about how hard it is to tell the truth in a relationship, „Penetration“ a clever lyrical criticism of capitalist culture. Bazan manages to transport everything he wants to say without saying too much, without overcomplicating things and without forgetting the song!
So there is some step from his earlier work to his more recent solo stuff. It nevertheless still holds the melancholic tone and his most characteristic attribute: his voice.
There is hardly any other artist out there that has the ability to transport such emotion merely through his voice. I reckon there will be a huge uproar now with people telling me how moved they have been by a performance of artist XYZ and I totally understand that. My point being though that there are very few artists that can capture a perfect emotional moment on tape. Not an HD-video shot with your mobile phone – but real tape. A bloody tape machine.
But while I absolutely adore the work he has done with Pedro, his solo work is not something to neglect. His narratives create such an intimacy with the listener that it seems impossible to take your ears off his recordings. Take the following album as an example. Bazan and his guitar (or a piano actually). No need for unnecessary add-ons, thick layers of strings, horns or glockenspiel. I guess the right word to describe his work is pure. Purity is a rare good these days when a usb-keyboard and the click of your mouse are enough to create a symphony of plugins and instruments.
So finally, while most of his songs and albums carry a sense of melancholia, they never let you down. It is just like a very good friend. They let you go through shit, they allow you to make mistakes and yes, they might not always agree with your decisions. But in the end they are there for you. No matter why or when, they will comfort you. Bazan has that quality too. That’s why he is brilliant. And his music too.