Pedro the Lion

It’s surprising, given that the indie-rock community does not celebrate religious belief, to think of rising indie band Pedro the Lion as Christian. What’s more shocking is that frontman David Bazan pens some of the most interesting and intelligent songs around. Control, like last year’s Winners Never Quit, offers a theme-based collection, mostly about everyday people committing everyday wrongs; Bazan might call them “sins.” His evenhanded commentary on the human tendency for self-absorption is brilliant. In “Magazine,” he splits the universe into two halves, stating: “the bad half live in wickedness / and on the other side / the good half live in arrogance.” Between them? “There’s a steep slope and a short rope.” Cynical? Perhaps. But Pedro the Lion tackles its cynicism with breathtaking smarts. A much more aggressive album than its predecessor, Control is nonetheless striking in its beauty.