For those familiar with his art, David Bazan has practically become synonymous with the word “doubt.” First gaining notoriety with the Christian indie band Pedro the Lion, Bazan’s solo work has primarily dealt with the dissolution of his faith. Albums like 2009’s Curse Your Branches featured raw lashings-out at faith in a God Bazan could no longer reconcile to what he saw and experienced in this treacherous world.
Bazan’s latest album is a bit of a shift in the broader narrative of his music. Care continues the dark-shaded electronic instrumentation introduced to the Bazan discography with his previous album Blanco, but brings about a different sort of message. Here Bazan is focusing on the broad theme of empathy through the narrower lens of romantic relationships.
Much of the album sounds like it would fit inside of a videogame as it features melodies that drift and lurk rather than pushing toward a foregone conclusion.
This is a fitting attribute as the narrator of the album’s journey is akin to a videogame protagonist; sifting through levels of puzzles and conflicts, solving one just to find another. The lyrics on Care look at both the risk and the reward of devoting oneself to another while recognizing that neither the lows nor the highs are permanent, but just another level.
In his exploration of relationship and commitment, Bazan makes clear that the title Care is a verb rather than a noun. Several times in the lyrics Bazan uses the words “Come on” to encourage himself and the listener into the action of empathy and not just the thought or feeling.
This is a different sort of album for David Bazan. It is not necessarily that he has found God or shifted his worldview from that of his past work, but rather than focusing on tough questions and honest expressions of doubt, Care shows what it looks like to live into and love those around you in spite of beliefs, non-beliefs, or personal flaws. David Bazan may not have answers, but he refuses to let his uncertainty stand in the way of unity with, and devotion to, others. (Undertow)