Priests and Paramedics
Few pop/rock artists—Christian or secular—probe the dark side of human nature as fearlessly as Pedro the Lion’s David Bazan. Control offers an unflinching accounting of the wages of sin, framed in both intimate and societal terms. This time, Casey Foubert helps round out Bazan’s guitar and drums with sympathetic bass and keyboard work, creating a sonic atmosphere that veers from the brooding to the astringent (sometimes in the same track). As on previous albums, it’s the lyrics that give Pedro the Lion its deepest bite. Romantic betrayal is a recurring theme, whether depicted in the nervous forebodings of “Options,” the lethal jealously of “Rehearsal,” or the sordid infidelity of “Second Best.” “Indian Summer” (an indictment of political arrogance) and “Penetration” (skewering capitalist greed) are filled with a palpable sense of outrage. Bazan's at his best on “Priests and Paramedics,” a meditation upon faith, suffering, and solace set to an elegiac melody. The closing track, “Rejoice,” takes on the paradox of existence itself. Control is a tormented yet passionately spiritual work that demands close listening.