Capping off a fruitful 12-year long solo career, singer/songwriter David Bazan resurrects and reunites with both the moniker and mindset of his profoundly influential indie rock outfit, Pedro The Lion, with the follow up to their 2004 opus, Achilles Heel. The band's new album and Polyvinyl debut, Phoenix, marks a return to form for the beloved group, while mapping out the emotional intricacies and childhood experiences of growing up in Phoenix, AZ – a process that would ultimately shape Bazan's adult life. In June 2018, with Bazan on bass, vocals, and arrangement writing, Erik Walters on guitar and backing vocals, and Sean Lane on drums, Pedro the Lion went into Studio X and Hall of Justice with producer Andy Park to create Phoenix, the first new Pedro album in 15 years.
On opening track "Yellow Bike," Bazan encapsulates a core ache he's been exploring since 1998's It's Hard to Find a Friend. Phoenix also deals with having to be better to yourself in order to be better to others on "Quietest Friend," and harkens back to Control's "Priests and Paramedics" with a story about EMTs facing a gruesome scene, and storytelling as coping mechanism, on "Black Canyon." The result is a twisting, darkly hopeful introspection into home and what it means to go back, if you ever can.
It is rock and roll wrapped in tissue paper, its hard edges made barely soft. Every melody is careful, a delicate upswing buoyed by guitar lines that hold each tender feeling together like string before ripping them apart to see what's inside. It is an ode to the place he still loves despite how alien it can appear to him now. It is the story of a life from the beginning, but not a linear one. This life is a circle, and Phoenix goes back to that first point, to show that when we are looking for home we'll eventually run into it again, whether it's in the desert, in a rehearsal space, or on a stage.