First off, let me start this review by saying that I am a Christian and have a very real, intimite relationship with God. I say this because there have been a number of negative responses to this album by people who say they are Christian. David Bazan (frontman for Pedro) is a Christain artist, and yes, some of his songs are quite profane, at least on the surface. There's even a song on this album with chorus lyrics of: "Oh my sweet rapture, I hear Jesus calling me." This is all fine and well, except for the fact that these are the words exclaimed by an unfaithful husband in the middle a very explicit love affair. Many would read that as blasphemous. But if one understands the subtext of the album and the violent sarcasm of many of the songs, everything makes overwhelmingly beautiful sense. The disc needs to be listened to with an open ear and an alert mind. But enough about the meanings: I'll leave you to determine them for yourselves once you buy this phenomenal release. On to the musicianship. Many have criticized Bazan's vocals as monotonic, drab, and ultimately lifeless. For some songs this is true, however, on others it is not. He wails an absolutely crushing refrain on Second Best, for example. I personally love Bazan's vocal character. The sense of disconnect that it often lends to the songs fits perfectly with the form of the album and the meanings: the apathy in his voice is the apathy of humanity, surrounded by countless ills and vices, broken reltationships and broken people. Putting aside for a moment the emotional character of David's voice, let me say that sonically it is wonderful: pure and simple, yet rich and thick. The guitar work is absolutely wonderful: really fat and meaty crunch distortions, along with soaring and screaming lines. There is a beautiful range of technique and tempo, and the guitar parts fit the form of the song. The accompanying drums are also stellar: confident and sure-footed in the slower songs, and full and robust for the more upbeat numbers. One personal opinion of mine is that the cymbals are not used enough by drummers today: too often they are used to punctuate certain moments in music, when they need to be one of the driving forces. I love the cymbal playing on this album. It is almost brain-numbing at times, the way the drummer rides them. Throw in simple but melodic, quirky bass lines, and you have yourself one heck of a musical production. The parts blend seamlessly and yet surprisingly. Oh, and did I mention that the songwriting is absolutely phenomenal as well?? Simple and straightforward yet bone-cutting lyrics, wonderful musical form, and intelligent, sophisticated chord progressions and voicings. An absolute masterpiece. Do yourself a favor and buy it now, and remember the redemption undertones to all the depressing tracks.