Curse Your Branches (Just Not the One On Which You’re Standing)

Reading reviews [for example, here and here] of David Bazan’s latest disc, Curse Your Branches, it is easy to get the point: whereas Bazan used to write explicitly “Christian” songs (whatever it means for a song to be “Christian”), he has now entered a new stage of maturity where he doesn’t merely accept all the things he was once taught; now he uses his music to question his previous assumptions and explore what it means for him to still believe in God.

A few notes about the music itself: the full songs were interesting to hear after listening to Bazan sing them live with only a guitar (e.g., on the Live at the Grey Eagle set that he made available on his website).  The musical progression is as clear as his religious progression.  This is not Pedro the Lion, nor even Fewer Moving Parts.  The full instrumentation includes a lot of nuance that will take multiple listens to catch.  The background choral vocals on “Bless This Mess” seem sort of out of place on a David Bazan album, probably due to how strange they would be on a Pedro the Lion CD.  (For me, David Bazan was Pedro the Lion, so I don’t make a big distinction between his various lyrical incarnations.)  Nevertheless, the choral vocals fit well once the listener has had a chance to reconcile this sound with what Bazan has done before.  As in the past, the darker lyrical tone often conflicts with the upbeat and swiftly moving music, which has the effect of stopping the listener dead at times, especially when singing along!  His music is as easy to listen to and as catchy as always (if you don’t find yourself humming “Bless This Mess” or “Please, Baby, Please” incessantly, you should check your pulse). Continue reading