The lyrics on David Bazan’s first album under his own name read like a personal guide to his conflicts with Christianity. The album opens with “Hard to Be,” which expresses doubts about the validity of Adam and Eve’s story and seems to reach to the heavens for answers with graceful piano and swelling synthesizer, as Bazan questions what he has grown up believing and hopes to understand the truth. He reveals deep fears — straying from church traditions, alienating family — as pedal-steel guitar swirls around crunchy synthesizers and sweetly strummed guitar. “Please, Baby, Please” sounds like a digitally cleaned-up version of Neutral Milk Hotel with vocals by Okkervil River’s Will Sheff. What makes the album a standout is Bazan’s ability to fashion poetic prose from self-doubt and personal struggles. Taking a deep, concentrated listen can move you to tears, regardless of your religious beliefs. The turmoil in Bazan’s voice, the honesty of his lyrics and its musical craft make this album a must-hear. Everyone doubts; Bazan spins it into art.
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