Features | Awards

The FleshLight® Award for Widely Recognized Thing I Will Never Fully Experience First-hand But Know I Should Enjoy, At Least On Some Sort Of Conceptual Level

By Dom Sinacola | 15 December 2009

David Bazan :: Curse Your Branches
(Barsuk; 2009)

IOU1, Barsuk. For all of its glowing critical reception and exhibition as supposed proof of a long career’s continued relevance—just take a gander at that Metacritic score; now reflect—David Bazan’s first departure from the Pedro the Lion namesake with his Christian one will probably sink ever-steadily below the ubiquitous list-making radar come time to, well, make any lists. Meaning now. For example: you won’t (spoiler!) find it on CMG’s Top 50 for the year and I’ll go ahead and bet the P-word won’t have it in its ranks (though NPR might find room for it, Paste too maybe, but their suckers for this stuff—this stuff being conspicuously alt-country, pitted, eschatologically, between God and the Devil). Theoretically, clearly, I should have taken careful steps to enjoy this. (Favorite hagiography? Hands down, Martin Luther’s.) Instead, my experience with Branches has been limited almost solely to “Please, Baby, Please,” a monstrously catchy, jangly little thing with a gaudy bass line prepped for decrying, say, blank cultural insensitivity that has surreptitiously made its way onto Sirius radio’s most-played indie lists, at least when I hear it during happy hour squooshed between whatever Animal Collective song is their most recent single and that Nico-Muhly-backed Jonsi cut that is just so goddamned fucking adorable I want to teach it about abstinence within the context of a classroom at a young but impressionable age. Apparently everyone is listening to the record but no one’s especially championing it, its existence occupying the interstitial safe-space between hype-hole and hate-zit, respected but never brightly lauded, which makes it seem about as much fun as coffee with Glenn Branca. If Curse Your Branches is good for what it isn’t—a disappointment—and Bazan is successful for what he hasn’t done—stopped making broadly theme-based roots rock that sounds like Pedro the Lion, give or take a layer of static—then perhaps our souls are more at stake than even he can conceive.