Curse Your Branches is about David Bazan's sobering break with God, as well as his struggles with the bottle. The Seattle-based singer/songwriter's scathing lyrics and melancholy Lou Barlow-esque vocals thread through tambourine-happy and synthesizer-sad songs, but overall the effort constitutes a dark, lonely landscape.
The power of the album lies in his obsessive writing. In opening track "Hard to Be," Bazan sings, "Wait just a minute, you expect me to believe that all this misbehaving grew from one enchanted tree? And, helpless to fight it, we should all be satisfied with this magical explanation for why the living die?" In "Please, Baby, Please" he rubs his infant daughter's tummy and wonders if one day she'll despise the smell of booze on his breath. In the title track he sings, "All fallen leaves should curse their branches, for not letting them decide where they should fall. And not letting them refuse to fall at all."
It helps to know that Bazan, formerly of now-defunct band Pedro the Lion, used to be faithful, though he always made edgier music than his Christian peers. Listening to him losing his religion and dissecting family relations is like being forced to stare at an open wound: uncomfortable, gruesomely personal and completely fascinating.
David Bazan plays the Palace Thursday, April 8, at 9 PM with Karli Fairbanks. $10.