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June 3, 2004

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David Bazan has one of the most recognizable voices in indie-rock (and possibly one of the most soothing). He lulls ears with a long-drawn-out, composed vocal delivery that brings calmness and quietude. With help from longtime collaborator TW Walsh, and assistance from James McAllister (Ester Drang) on drums, the instrumentations are as comforting as the vocals and Achilles Heel is just as commanding as Pedro's previous effort Control.

"You were too busy steering the conversation toward the Lord / To hear the voice of the Spirit begging you to shut the fuck up / You thought it must be the devil trying to make you go astray / Besides it could not have been the Lord because you don't believe he talks that way."* Lyrically sharp, Bazan's words are the most potent element of Pedro the Lion's make-up. Though, unlike Winners Never Quit and Control, lyrically Achilles Heel steers clear of a core concept. Bazan states, "Without pretense, I wanted to un-concept things a bit."

On Control the infectious "Magazine" was hit with endless repeats. Achilles Heel also contains a stand-out gem that's been stuck on constant rotation in my stereo, "Start Without Me." Upbeat and memorably sweet, it may be my favorite Pedro song to date.

Achilles Heel is a savory collection of warm laid-back songs. While it shows some growth, it also contains rehashed Pedro the Lion elements that have been found on every album since Whole. But if they work, why change? You can really tell Bazan and company had fun on Achilles Heel. The cloud that lingers above Achilles Heel isn't as disheartening and dark as previous releases. This new sense of clearer skies helps bring solace and reassurance, resulting in one of Pedro the Lion's finest releases to date, and a progressive step forward for the somber lion.

Fake Train

Ken Hawk