“Didn’t we make music? Didn’t we always risk our hearts to do this?” -“Make Music”
This sentiment seems like an appropriate way to usher in the continuation of Stars and Scars but, like much of David Bazan‘s work, there are deeper, darker meanings hidden beneath the words.
Throughout four solo albums, multiple EPs, side projects, and his entire decade-long catalog under the name of Pedro the Lion, there have been very few happy endings in Bazan’s songs. He asks the big questions but does not provide easy answers. He wrestles with marriage (“Inner Lives”), loyalty (“Stop romanticizing cheating,” he snarls in the title track. “We are cowards, every one”), loss (“The Ballad of Pedro y Blanco”), and faith (the flood-based imagery in “Permanent Record”), framing his debates with a brutal, unflinching honesty. Bazan is an incredibly powerful lyricist – I’d argue, perhaps, the best of his entire generation – and if you give yourself the time to really absorb these songs, it is impossible to leave them unaffected.
Musically, this record follows his more recent trend towards synthesizer-and-drum-machine-based compositions (fans of his 2005 project Headphones will also feel right at home). With Bazan, however, the message truly trumps the medium. Several of these songs were previously recorded for his “Bazan Monthly” series, and are now reimagined within the icy chill of a digital domain. This is a fascinating facet of Bazan’s songwriting and one that he has revisited several times during his career. There end up being no “definitive” versions of any given song, and each new iteration (whether laid bare acoustically, driven home with a full band, or skewered into binary pieces) shines a light into a new corner of his evocative words.
David Bazan is a true songwriter’s songwriter, and albums like his Curse Your Branches and Pedro the Lion’s Control are towering achievements in any genre. Care sits comfortably amongst these greats, and is a moving, (occasionally) difficult, and ultimately rewarding listen.
Perfect for long walks, quiet nights, and contemplative drives.