David Bazan was, for many years, the songwriter and driving force behind the acclaimed indie band Pedro the Lion, building a dedicated following and selling a couple hundred-thousand albums based in large part on his extraordinary melodic sense and erudite, theologically-themed songs. After a decade helming the project, he found himself embroiled in a major personal philosophical and spiritual cataclysm, wrapped in a growing drinking problem. Bazan got to work exorcizing both his demons and angels, ditching the Pedro moniker in favor of his given name and producing two incredible pieces of work in the Fewer Moving Parts EP and the 2009 full-length Curse Your Branches (Barsuk).
While Curse Your Branches documents an intensely personal and complex struggle, Bazan’s new album Strange Negotiations focuses his energies toward the external, centering on his disappointment in the current state of accelerating American and global social fragmentation.
Drawing inspiration from a broad group of musical heroes ranging from Fugazi to Tom Petty, the grooves sit in the pocket, the tempos are up, and, for lack of a better word, the music swings. It’s the first full length he’s recorded with a band – the same band with which he toured relentlessly in support of Curse Your Branches – and in spite of the dire messages the album delivers, the joy that he, Andy Fitts (bass), and Alex Westcoat (drums) take in playing these songs is beautiful.