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Perspectives Details
Published:  December 5, 2004

Author Details
Author:  Donovan Jones
Donovan Jones is an active musician in the Dallas area. His previous projects include My Spacecoaster, Tiebreaker and Evelynn.
Storytelling: A Review Of Pedro The Lion's Achilles Heel
by Donovan Jones
Since Pedro the Lion’s release of It’s Hard To Find A Friend, there hasn’t been a full-length put out that was not a concept album until now. In that respect, David has reverted to the variation of songs much like that on his sophomore release. Not that the songs sound the same, but that he was showcasing the different directions that he could go. Such is the case with his newest release, Achilles Heel. My guess is that his next album will have songs that are much more cohesive to the album’s idea as well as the songs using much of the same instruments with little deviation, if any, from the album’s overall sound.

Pedro the Lion has generally had a reputation of being simple music. However, it’s not about the music being simple, it’s just that he’s really good at writing chord progressions that make sense to the listener. In actuality, his chord progressions are very grounded in traditional music theory. This is how David utilizes relative chords and mild chromaticism to transition into new key signatures. In addition to his chord structures, his use of the polyrhythm is subtle enough to pass unnoticed by most listeners. He generally likes to use 3/4 over 4/4 time.

That being said let me stress to you that I cherish this album. The bass is just as melodic as it is on the other albums. The only difference is that on many of these songs the bass is at the forefront of the mix, making it the main instrument. The bass melodies may sound simple, but there’s an extensive amount of thought behind what’s being played. Listen to the record a couple of times and you’ll start to pick up on just how much time was spent on the rhythm section alone. David knows what he’s doing and as a relatively proficient bass player, I hold him in high regard because of his playing on this album. TW Walsh does a great job playing the drums the way they need to be played. For the most part, they’re either solidifying a mellow verse before the transition in to a somewhat toned down post-punk chorus. The drums are usually simplistic, but work hand in hand with the bass making the rhythm section the best I’ve heard yet.

Vocally, David has done things on this album he’s never done before. From exaggerated falsetto on the first track to three part harmonies on the sixth. The melodies to the songs are very happy in nature and full of great hooks. However, don’t be deceived by these, this album is one of his darkest. I’ve never heard him talk about death this much. From a farmer’s son being eaten by vultures, to a man having his limbs amputated by a train against the tracks. The songs that don’t concern death cover the illegitimate births of children, the sad state of the music industry, and old American couples whose life consists of going to the racetrack and being drunk by noon.

The songs concerning religion give the listener an idea of how it feels looking at the world through the other side of the lens. I’m going to go ahead and say that the majority of Pedro the Lion’s audience is made up of Christians. I admire the fact that David is honest enough to write about his consumption of “adult beverages” and still retain his faith. A majority of the listeners will not quite understand how that is possible. Not only that, but to take it a step further and turn the view on the fanatical Christians that label their thoughts the voice of God. Sadly, I’m sure that most of this will be lost on the people that need to hear it most.

This is a brave release. If you’re capable of abstract thought, then you should have this album not to mention every other release as well. Achilles Heel is a showcase of sorts that should be the precursor to another concept album.