With his work in Pedro the Lion, David Bazan struggled with his religious faith as he told fictional story after fictional story of sin, regret, pain and, sometimes, hope. Some of those records—namely “Winners Never Quit” and “Control”—rank as a couple of my favorites of the decade. With Pedro now defunct, Bazan embarks under his own name with “Curse Your Branches,” and his songwriting style moves towards the autobiographical. He calls the new method “a new way, a different way, a more grown-up, more serious kind of way,” and while his past work was certainly serious, this record—rife with tales of addiction, confusion and uncertainty, is often devastating. But Bazan is a skilled craftsman who’s developed over time, and while “Curse Your Branches” doesn’t feature too much musically that goes beyond what he accomplished in Pedro the Lion, you can immediately tell this is a step forward. It just feels different. “I suppose I do have more freedom,” Bazan says of his career now. “I was the only one that was making things rigid before. I didn’t have any pressure from anyone else. I was definitely a dictator. Maybe when you grow older, maybe you take things a little less seriously. That might be a factor.” Can you simultaneously write “more serious” music and “take yourself a little less seriously”? Well, “Curse Your Branches” is a success. (Tom Lynch)
David Bazan plays October 24 at Lincoln Hall, 2424 N. Lincoln, at 10:30pm.