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Dark Sacred Night

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Album Review

Former Pedro the Lion frontman David Bazan offers a different take on the holidays with Dark Sacred Night, a gently brooding collection of Christmas carols and assorted covers culled from earlier releases. Bazan's intensity and affinity for dark-toned songcraft has been well-represented in both his solo career and with Pedro, so it makes sense that his Yuletide tracks would represent the less festive side of the season. Culled from a series of holiday singles put out by the Suicide Squeeze label, some of which date as far back as 2002 (and were formerly released under his band's name), the ten tracks on Dark Sacred Night were remixed and remastered into one of 2016's more peculiar and certainly more downcast Christmas albums. Citing his struggles with "religion, family, and commercialism gone mad," Bazan seeks to express the more uncomfortable side of the holidays where it's okay to admit feelings of depression and anxiety during what, for many, is actually not "the most wonderful time of the year." While a decidedly somber Christmas album might seem unappealing, his tone is actually quite sincere and strangely meditative, especially on tracks like "Away in a Manger" and "O Little Town of Bethlehem." There's a spacious, lo-fi patina that nicely frames his gentle strumming and earnest baritone. Not every track works and it's unlikely to replace Vince Guaraldi's A Charlie Brown Christmas in terms of sheer comfort, but it's certainly honest and offers an alternative to the parade of musical schmaltz that arrives like clockwork each season.

Customer Reviews

a real bummer

Going to see Dave perform this the week of Christmas. One of my three exceptions to hating all Xmas music (the others being Sufjan & Nat King Cole).


Born: January 22, 1976 in Seattle, WA

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '90s, '00s, '10s

The son of a pastor, David Bazan wasn't introduced to secular music until his early youth, which helps explain the Christian-influenced songwriting of his band project, Pedro the Lion. Bazan formed the group in 1995, mixing first-person narratives and nuanced indie rock with contributions from a rotating cast of musicians. Based in Seattle, the group released four albums, beginning with 1998's It's Hard to Find a Friend and concluding with 2004's Achilles Heel. Bazan stopped using the name in early...
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Dark Sacred Night, David Bazan
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