So very, very, very sad. And a little bitter, and a little envious, and a little self-righteous. But mostly just sad. Sad, sad, sad, sad, sad. Sad.
"Arizona" is a charming little story of love and betrayal that is so cute and clever, it kind of makes you want to throw up. "Bands With Managers" is on the other extreme of Pedro the Lion's scale, where boring bitterness reigns supreme. The songs on Achilles Heel move between the two sides, at one moment creative and touching, at the next bland and self-piteous. A few songs even show that David Bazan (he is Pedro the Lion, the lucky guy) has some deep roots in classic rock. "Start Without Me" is lifted straight from Jackson Browne's "Running on Empty," and the harmonies in "Keep Swinging" make me think that Bazan has listened to his fair share of Steely Dan records.
The illustrations on the insert tell a story. I'm not really sure what the story is, but a lot of people are crying and a lion is roaring, and then you turn the insert over and the lion is dead and a man is pointing a shotgun at you! So why were all the people crying? Did the lion eat their friend? Were they scared of the man with the shotgun? Were they teary because the lion was singing sad songs with words like, "Who shall I blame for this sweet and heavy trouble, for every stupid struggle? I don't know?" And why aren't there as many people on the back of the insert? Did they run away? Did the man with the shotgun kill them? Did they go back in the house and put on something a bit more chipper, like Joy Division or Dashboard Confessional?
Listen if you like: The Bends, Death Cab for Cutie, Iron & Wine, Morrissey/Smiths songs like "I Know It's Gonna Happen Someday" and "Please, Please, Please Let Me Get What I Want"
If it were food, it'd be: a bitter pill, and the spoonful of sugar is all ... the ... way ... on ... the ... other ... side ... of ... the ... room ...