Single Review: ‘Model Homes’

Wednesday, December 5, 2018 - 3:23pm

Pedro the Lion

Pedro the Lion Buy this photo
Polyvinyl

I’ve been anxiously awaiting the unlikely return of David Bazan-helmed Pedro The Lion since my youth pastor played “Diamond Ring” as the introduction to a lesson at our fall kick-off retreat my sophomore year of high school.

For those unfamiliar with Bazan’s work, as Pedro or otherwise, the publication Christ and Pop Culture might have put it best when they labeled him the “Patron Saint of Skeptics and Doubters.” Early in his career as Pedro, Bazan found a serious fan base among religious communities, who presumably just appreciated he was talking about God at all. As the albums kept coming (five LPs in total between 1998 and 2004, with the addition of Phoenix coming in January of next year) Bazan’s lyrics became more and more cynical. Around that time, he also expressed in interviews that he had begun considering himself agnostic and, as a direct result, became a sort of black sheep among those in the Christian community who were aware of his work.

Now, although Bazan appears to be making a conscious turn away from explicitly religious themes, he can’t quite seem to make a clean break. “Model Homes,” the second single from the upcoming Phoenix, finds him still hinting at the stifling quality of the church. The song opens with Bazan, as a child, leaving church with his parents, an image followed by the reflection that “Sunday afternoon felt like a tomb.”

Largely, though, “Model Homes” expresses a wish for newness. Over melancholy, sun-soaked guitars, Bazan blurs the line between past and present, juxtaposing images of “Shuffling our shoes on brand new carpet / Freeze tag with static electricity,” with a desire to “Live with someone else / Give them my whole self.” What begins in childhood makes a startling jump to the present day, while Bazan half-shouts, “I wanna not be lonely,” in his characteristically syrupy vocal style. “When will the wait be over?” he repeats twice at the end of the song. For fans of Pedro, the wait will be over sooner than we know.