The cast of Pedro the Lion's latest seems lifted from a lost Arthur Miller tragedy. There are gambling-addict husbands, faithless lovers, and joyless amputees by the dozen. It's a dour crew, all brought to life through David Bazan's just-secular-enough-to-sell coo and midtempo balladeering that nearly evoke (gasp) a B-list Coldplay. The gems ("A Simple Plan," "Discretion") pit uplifting melodies against lyrical melancholy, and eschew Bazan's usual God-fearing parables for blurry impressionism. Even when Bazan takes the pulpit in "Foregone Conclusions" ("You were too busy ... to hear the voice of the spirit begging you to shut the fuck up"), the slowed vocals distract from his proselytizing. This subtlety makes for an evocative (if mixed) set of messages, without the Sunday school aftertaste. Thank God.
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