Review: Phoenix by Pedro the Lion

Phoenix by Pedro the LionAs a music-making entity, Pedro the Lion has been gone for so long the newbies out there might think it’s new. Like me, actually. But it’s been fifteen years since David Bazan performed under that name, spending the intervening time performing with the short-lived Headphones and then under his own name. And now, much like its name suggests (although it seems to be more inspired by the Arizona city), Pedro the Lion is back like a phoenix rising from the ashes. No beats lost here: David’s songwriting is still as introspective and optimistic and yet questioning as before. It just feels much fresher here. Perhaps it’s the distance, but I’ll pin it to the more evocative subject of his childhood, the simplicity of the starting points and the complexities that spin out of them. Take first single “Yellow Bike”: it just grabs you. Perhaps one issue with Phoenix is that it feels too proficient, that it all blends by as the album goes on. It’s one of those albums that should hit you at the right time for you to truly appreciate it. But there’s no denying what David has done here – what he’s done before, really. He’ll be waiting. [NB]4/5