non-Christians, what makes David Bazan’s songs palatable is that he isn’t on a
recruiting mission. Instead, he’s voicing the doubts and dichotomies that comprise
any thinking person’s faith. He’s got a knack for ironic wordplay, graceful
dirges and understated pop hooks, too, and that’s translated into good drama
and songs, overall. Curse Your Branches is Bazan’s first proper full-length since
shedding his Pedro the Lion skin in favor of an arrangement-expanding solo
in the Garden (“Hard to Be”) and ends with a pointed address to God about
having bitten off more than he could chew (“In Stitches”). “You knew just what
would happen/And made us just the same/Then you, my Lord, can take the blame,”
he adds on “When We Fell.” Bazan’s characters balance their faith with life’s
messy complications and a creeping sense of preordination: Do those cursed
branches belong to the tree that bore the apple, or our own fucked-up DNA?
Excepting the awful, Phil Collins-percussion-up-front “Bless This Mess,” Bazan
engagingly chronicles the oldest battle of all again.
Standout Tracks: “Curse Your Branches” “When We Fell” JOHN SCHACHT