Curse Your Branches - David Bazan
Metascore
82

Universal acclaim - based on 18 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 16 out of 18
  2. Negative: 1 out of 18
  1. His salvation is humanistic empathy, spiritual complexity, and melodies more unfailing than back when the Holy Ghost was inspiring into his ear.
  2. Bazan has built his career on the merit of his honesty, and Curse Your Branches finds him exerting that idea more forcefully than ever before, creating a record that beautifully, paradoxically, and soulfully explores the beauty and strife of admitting "I don't know."
  3. Regardless of the circumstances surrounding its creation, Curse Your Branches is Bazan's best album to date.
  4. Lyrics have always been the focal point of Bazan's music, and here they carry a vast majority of the weight.
  5. Despite its undercurrent of outrage, Branches--which expands Pedro's folksy sound with creamy keyboards, processed drum beats and the occasional spritz of glam-rock guitar.
  6. Curse Your Branches--his first solo album, though Pedro was basically just Bazan anyway--pushes him into full-on agnosticism, though that changes little about his terrifically melancholy music.
  7. 82
    These songs would stand on thier own in terms of sound alone, but it's the addition of Bazan's thoughtful lyrics that make this perhaps his most powerful and interesting album thus far. [Summer 2009, p.94]
  8. It's been molded into something deeply personal and jaded, as black-hearted and resigned as American Music Club circa "Everclear." [Summer 2009, p.60]
  9. If all that sounds like heavy going, a slightly bitter pill to swallow, fair warning, it is. But if you appreciate the effort that goes into crafting a record like this by giving it the repeated plays it needs, you're going to find a piece of work you'll come back to again and again.
  10. Doubt can be crippling, but it also serves a positive purpose here, as Bazan has rarely sounded so convincing in his vocal delivery or songwriting.
  11. The quiet, melodic Curse Your Branches - think American Music Club with superior melodies - is an open-veined, self-lacerating look at his break-up with God ("You expect me to believe that all this misbehaving grew from one enchanted tree?" he asks on the brutal Hard To Be), his subsequent alcohol issues ("All this lethal drinking is to forget about you") and his estrangement from his young daughter. [Dec 2009, p. 111]
  12. On paper this may sound bleak--and in many ways, Curse Your Branches is--but ultimately there's a level of solcae in Bazan's sadness that's remarkably reassuring and, stranger yet, satisfying. [Sep 2009, p.106]
  13. It never sounds gimmicky--instead, the juxtaposing of acoustic guitars and synthesizers seems completely natural.
  14. His identity crisis, drinking binges and family tensions are chronicled in chunky, rootsy rockers that can be stately or foot-stomping--and can, perhaps, offer some resolution.
  15. While he has been rightfully criticized in the past for leaning too heavily on fuzzed-out, midtempo guitar pop and stripped-down folk, there's a surprising amount of variety to be found here, not to mention a great deal of depth.
  16. For all the talk that's been made recently of Bazan's own struggles with alcoholism and faith, it's telling that on Branches the strongest, most evocative tracks are those that, in the singer's beautifully worn and warm delivery, choose, in essence, melody over meaning.
  17. Still a little dry at times, Curse Your Branches is saved by its attempts at lightness and levity, a positive step which shakes the singer out of a funk of self-serious gloominess.
  18. Bazan has, it's reported, fallen out with God and off the wagon, and those tumbles get painful airtime on his solid first solo LP, Curse Your Branches.
User Score
8.9

Universal acclaim- based on 27 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 3 out of 5
  2. Negative: 0 out of 5
  1. MarkR
    Nov 11, 2009
    4
    Boring! I don't care how great the lyrics are if the music puts me to sleep.
  2. MarkR
    Nov 11, 2009
    4
    Boring! I don't care how great the lyrics are if the music puts me to sleep.
  3. ChetE
    Sep 15, 2009
    10
    This is by far the best sounding recording that David has released to date. Not only is the music composition, arrangement, and lyrics terrific, but the sound quality of the album is absolutely phenomenal! It's about time that somebody has shelled out the big bucks to record this guy the way he ought to, and I for one am truly impressed. A+ on this effort (and a smiley face, to boot!) Full Review »