David Bazan's new album is one worth caring about.Self Released, 2017
7.8 / 10
Is David Bazan drinking a new brand of coffee? Or maybe he recently started a new Beachbody exercise program? No idea. What we do know is that Bazan is the most active he’s been in a while. Last year he released two albums, Blanco and Dark Sacred Night; though, Dark Sacred Night is a Christmas covers album. Now he’s back with another album of new material, Care. On the album, Bazan recalls the work from his 2005 side project Headphones, which only released one self-titled album. Care’s songs are built from minimal, melancholy synth arrangements that give the album a sweeping poignancy. David Bazan cares very hard it seems.
The album’s ten songs revolve around characters; although, the songs feel confessional. On the religious-tinged “Permanent Record”, Bazan admits as much, “I store my thoughts in other people’s heads/ Then I question what they know.” Maybe it’s his own way of determining how he really feels. Aside from Bazan’s gloomy compositions, his voice sounds weathered with anguish. On “Up All Night”, he yearns for the sweet simplicities of youth when school ends. The song imbues a reckless innocence where the kids are “up all night howling at the moon.”
Marriage, or rather a failing marriage, seems to be a recurring theme throughout Care. On the album’s opening title track, gut wrenching admissions tear the heart apart. Bazan has said that the title track is a plea for empathy, yet in the song, it feels so hard to give. By contrast, “Make Music” is more musically upbeat versus “Care”, but it seems to share its narrative of a marriage on its last legs. He sings, “Didn’t we always vote for love/ When our friends were breaking up/ And they’d go and see a counselor/ To find it’s not enough.” The somber “Inner Lives” plays off as a moment of clarity in a broken marriage. Bazan’s singing of, “Come on,” feels like a plea to move past whatever difficulties are present.
Care is at its most uplifting in its closing song, “The Ballad of Pedro y Blanco”. Its story begins with newlyweds and grows to include their children and eventually grandchildren in the song’s heartbreaking finale. Bazan sings, “They don’t make them like this anymore.” Is it a statement on the modern family? Bazan has hinted as much by referencing the Coen Brothers’ film, Raising Arizona, when discussing the song. It ends Care on a beautiful note. As far as good albums go, Care proves that Bazan can still make them like this.