I’m a fan of Pedro the Lion, and so I was curious about David Bazan’s solo album, Curse Your Branches. It came out in 2009, and I grabbed a copy from Amazon.
Bazan’s album is a tough one. “It’s hard to be a decent human being,” he sings on the lead track, “Hard to Be.” OK, fine, no problem there, we can all relate. But then it sort of goes deeper into darkness, or, you might say, downhill. Not that dark isn’t a good thing–I’m all for it. But there are some hard, head-on-the-pavement truths his characters are facing in these songs that are pretty tough to hear.
Alcoholism weighs heavy on many of these songs, and Bazan is up front about mixing it straight into marriage and fatherhood. His characters aren’t living pretty lives–they’re full of regret, they’re struggling to stay near the surface, they’re falling, and falling, and falling.
The songs are striking, true–if they weren’t, they wouldn’t hit so hard. But with everything right on the surface like that, like a shirt with too big a rip, or a wound splayed open and untended, it makes an impact. You listen–but when it’s all over, do you want to hear it again? Me, I’m not so sure. It will stay with me, I know. But for now, once was enough.
Read more about it on NPR, where writer Stephen Thompson talks about it as Bazan’s break up with God.