It’s been 15 years since Seattle’s Pedro The Lion (the pseudonym of David Bazan) released a full-length record. ‘Phoenix’ is more like a reconstruction than a revival, characterised by what makes the album classic of sorts: a gentle, generous dive into the past, which translates into the future. It’s both nostalgic and progressive, providing the best of both worlds.
Opening with ‘Sunrise’ a short instrumental with a simple melody, it’s the perfect opener. It sets the tone texturally, with 80s film score synths, before effortlessly blending into ‘Yellow Bike’, an anthemic track that sees Bazan remembering his first bike ride.
Feelings of nostalgia continue throughout the album; ‘Circle K’ unravels a memory about failing to save up for a skateboard because he spent all his allowance on candy and soda pop. His husky voice is a standout and immediately sucks you into what would otherwise be a mundane story.
‘Model Homes’, ‘Piano Bench’, and ‘Leaving The Valley’ all follow suit with similar nostalgic themes. Although personal, these are allegories for adult life; scraping by to the make rent, chasing excitement wherever possible. The album is smart, and it’s relatable.
From end-to-end, ‘Phoenix’ exposes old memories to new light, turning them around to understand how they built his core. ‘Black Canyon’ is one of the more hard-hitting and lyrically powerful tracks on the album, accurately showcasing Bazan‘s impeccable and powerful songwriting abilities.
In terms of melody, this is an entirely new version of Pedro The Lion, delving into the world of indie rock. Flirting with synths, drum machines, and acoustic drifts, the album is experimental and progressive, juxtaposing the nostalgia of the lyrics and past with the progressive melodies, and is at a level of versatile that demands to be heard.
After two decades of blaming family, friends, God, capitalism, and life itself for his problems, Bazan now confronts himself and his own issues, and the album unfolds like an invitation for the listener to do the same. New year, new outlook – time to hit the restart button.
‘Phoenix’ is the perfect re-introduction to Pedro The Lion, and proves that 15-year wait was worth it. Powerful and emotive, it’s highly relatable and stands as a giving record, backed by some of Pedro The Lion‘s finest productions to-date.