David Bazan is now David Bazan. That is, his new album Strange Negotiationsmarks the completion of his transition from Pedro the Lion. It is not just a change of moniker, but a change in ideology. Pedro the Lion was a "Christian" band, David Bazan is not.
This transition has been ongoing for some time. Bazan's lyrics were already "edgy" in the Pedro the Lion days. But since changing names Bazan's lyrical themes have become unpalatable to most of his former Christian fanbase. In spite of this, the subject matter of his previous album Curse Your Branches was theologically focused: it was his break-up with God album. As such it was still a Christian album of sorts. And Bazan was teasing his audience:
I might as well admit it / like I even have a choice / the crew have killed the captain / but they still can here is voice / a shadow on the water / a whisper in the wind / on long walks with my daughter / who is lately filled with questions about you
Therefore we Christians still had some obscure hope that maybe Bazan was some form of "Christian" artist still.
However Bazan seems determined to fully sever the link to his evangelical Christian roots with this new venture. I suspect this desire is behind some curious features of the new album. The album art includes a reflection of a woman's nude backside, and that is complemented by a Ouija board in the album booklet. The lyrics also have an occasional "god damn" for good measure. That should keep the evangelicals out.
As for the album itself, I do not have much to say. It is not unusual for Bazan's work to take some time to grow on me. However this album is not my favorite. The music is not as engaging as some other Bazan ventures, and the lyrical content is a bit soft in its impact. For example, I found the "Strange Negotiations" in the title track to not be particularly strange. Of particular note is the cut "Don't Change" sounds like it could have been left over from Pedro the Lion's The Only Reason I Feel Secure.
I'll put this record down for a while and come back to it at some point. However, I am not sure that Bazan holds the same interest for me as he once did. I'll probably remember Headphones and Fewer Moving Parts as the definitive post-Pedro projects of Bazan's. Since I've given a less-than-flattering review, I'll quote Bazan's "Selling Advertizing" from the latter:
You're so creative / with your reviews / of what other people do / how satisfying that must be for you