If you're familiar with Bazan, you know the background: he was the writer and leader of the band Pedro the Lion for years, making music in which he talked about God and man and their complicated relationship. The band had a good sound, but I don't recall hearing a Pedro the Lion record I liked anywhere near as much as this disc. In fact, I will admit that I'm just now catching back up with Bazan, having heard the song "People" and being drawn in by the music and lyrics... and happy to discover that Strange Negotiations is a terrific record.
Some of the songs on here are absolutely irresistible: if they didn't rock so hard, the lyrics on "People" and "Wolves at the Door" would pull you in anyway. But they do, and they do...
The record has a big sound, and Bazan is putting it all in the service of, for want of a better term, preaching. While his recent solo albums apparently detailed his "breakup" with God, I would swear a lot of this record is written from a point of view you could only ascribe to an omniscient, loving being who cares enough to tell some unpleasant truths:
i wanna know who are these people
blaming their sins on the fall
who are these people
if i’m honest with myself at all
these are my people
man what else can i say
you are my people
and we’re the same in so many ways
"People" is an amazing song. I will resist the temptation to just quote the whole thing here, because the lyrics are better heard in the context of the music.
And from "Messes":
you used to keep me a secret
that nobody else could know
made me feel so alone
but i’ll be damned if i let it show
but now it’s like you hardly know me
so i’ve been busy minding my own
but i’m finding your finger prints
in some places they don’t belong
be careful cause the lights come on
without a warning
Matthew 25:13, anyone? Whether written from the point of view of God or an angry, disillusioned former Christian, that's a message that is truly timeless and it's wrapped in a stunning, beautiful rock record.
Listen at Soundcloud:
Wolves At The Door by David Bazan
[UPDATE]...And here's a video for "Wolves at the Door" from a recent live performance:
David Bazan Website
David Bazan at Barsuk Records