Two great tastes

If you really wanted to, you could get wrapped up in the stories David Bazan, the sole member of Pedro the Lion, paints on Control.

Go ahead — furrow your brow over how the devoutly Christian Bazan can write a song about infidelity, incorporate a pious chorus and title it “Rapture”.

She’s arching her back/She screams for more/Oh my sweet rapture/I hear Jesus calling me home

Wonder at how Bazan flings around the language of employment downsizing on the suggestively-titled “Penetration” and somehow refer to the music business.

If you aren’t moving units then you’re not worth the expense/If you really want to make it, you have to remember this/If this isn’t penetration, it isn’t worth a kiss

Or marvel at how Bazan can deliver sarcastic commentary about capitalistic pursuits with deadpan wit.

Thanks in part to Mother Nature/It will never rain again/It should do wonders for the GNP

Bazan certainly provides enough imagery to spell out the themes of his songs, and his prose-like verses read well outside the context of music.

But knowing the lyrics isn’t necessary to appreciate the album.

At its most basic level, Control is an excellent rock album, full of guitars and drums and hooks.

The dischordant chords which open “Rapture” are wound tightly with the song’s pounding drums. “Penetration” drowns in a medium-tempo, driving pulse. “Magazine” sports some really nice, full drumming, while “Second Best” wallows in high volume drones.

It’s all too easy to get lost in Bazan’s wonderfully textural arrangements. He knows when to let the guitars up, when to bring them back or when to keep them spare or thick all together.

As such, you could play Control time and again and never glance at the lyric sheet.

But then, you might also miss out on some really choice couplets. The lyrics for “Rejoice” in its entirety, for instance:

Wouldn’t it be so wonderful if everything were meaningless, but everything is so meaningful, and most everything turns to shit. Rejoice.

Yeah. What he said.

Control is full of biting but literate lyrics. It’s also an album full of well-written, nicely-arranged songs. Individually, they make an entertaining album good, and together, they make a smart album great.