David Bazan – Strange Negotiations

written by: May 25, 2011
Release Date: May 24, 2011


Strange Negotiations is led by a slow song titled “Wolves At The Door” with a contemplative beat across the lines “you’re a goddamn fool” repeated over and over. It’s a low tune that never quite picks up any steam as it lulls toward a finish. For this to start a record is not the greatest start. From there it finds a more steady place in “Level With Yourself.” The melody here is more definitive and easier to follow, but still not entirely pleasant to the ears. Sadly, these first few tracks warn listeners that what they’re about to experience is not only, indeed, strange, but also terribly sultry. If that’s what they’re into, then maybe it’ll be a feast for their ears. But at this point, nothing positive is present.

When Strange Negotiations chugs to the third song, it becomes clear each song will begin very slow and try to evolve into something more lively. But the track again starts ever so slowly before it turns into a bit of a mess. Not only is it difficult to decipher between the verse and chorus, but it eventually shows us a bridge filled with experimental beats and haphazard sounding noise that diffuses the track into sort of nothingness. But, believe it or not, it gets better.

“Virginia” trails with a bit of legitimate personality. Though it is slow, the brightness carrying the back of the tune is consistently uplifting. From there, songs become lost in the midst of the record. “Eating Paper” is almost childish as its riffs emulate beginning guitar sounds that are repeated. It’s not fun to listen to.

“Messes” brings listeners into the latter part of the record with a taste of mystery its composition and mood, with a well-constructed finish through a fun bridge and an abrupt ending.

The album reaches its lyrical peak in “Don’t Change” when it centers around the words “I tell myself today I’ll make a change/But falling into my bed at night/I think, man, it was a beautiful day/To stay the same.” This is profound in its simplicity and melancholy energy accompanied by a neat tune. The bottom half of the record is where things really start happening.

Inevitably we see the record’s peak in the title track. “Strange Negotiations” is slow and bluesy with light guitar and delicate drumming. David Bazan is normally seen as an indie-rock  artist but in these songs, he could almost be taken as a folk musician.

The record comes to a close with “Won’t Let Go,” channeling the same energy as the previous song but with a bit more of a hopeless emotion. It’s fascinating and wholesome. If only the whole record could follow.

The odd thing about this record is its progression between styles. It starts as a low, hollow rock compilation that turns into a steady indie folk marathon. It’s hard to tell what David Bazan was going for. The result is indeed strange.

David Bazan – Strange Negotiations Tracklist:

  1. “Wolves At The Door”
  2. “Level With Yourself”
  3. “Future Past”
  4. “People”
  5. “Viriginia”
  6. “Hearing Paper”
  7. “Messes”
  8. “Don’t Change”
  9. “Strange Negotiations”
  10. “Won’t Let Go”