Poetic lyrics take center stage on Destroyer’s latest album
May 1, 2008
Sometimes, what’s left unsaid is more powerful than stumbling on words. Daniel Bejar, Destroyer’s singer and frontman, understands this better than anyone. “A woman by another name is not a woman / I’ll tell you what I mean by that / Maybe not in seconds flat / Maybe not today,” he sings in “Blue Flower / Blue Flame,” a low-key, acoustic tune evasive in both subtext and craft. But rarely will a song captivate without trying. “Trouble in Dreams,” Destroyer’s latest, makes for a fantastic voyage.
Maybe it’s the poetic lyrics each track shares. “See the sun crawling over the sky / Keep an eye on the turf and the sea and the sand / Don’t you know every night is a stand-off with the fucking horizon,” are the opening words of “River,” showing beauty and brevity in unison. In the same manner, the music follows suit, as “My Favorite Year” holds to the tradition of Sonic Youth as it quietly creeps until you’re brought face to face with a hauntingly beautiful demon.
Bejar, also a member of the power-pop house known as The New Pornographers, is not out to craft songs. “Trouble in Dreams” is a prime example of music with soul. Unlike his other band, there’s no emphasis on hooks, riffs, or catchy kick drums. The instruments performed her—pentatonic pianos and piercing electric guitars – shoot like fireworks and explode into gorgeous decibels.
In the tradition of glam-pop made famous in the early 70s by Bowie, what’s being said takes a back seat to how it’s said. For Destroyer, they create wonders. “The State” jams like dirty country blues, only puked up and appropriately matching the song’s message of oppression and a “blue broken drum playing dead.” “Foam Hands” prods Bejar to speak over an organ and Nicolas Braggs’ tender guitar melodies about losing love and faith without the melodrama, but honestly and genuinely, even as he whistles the song to its conclusion.
The epic “Shooting Rockets (From the Desk of Night’s Ape)” is a masterpiece – and possibly one of the few songs that overcomes the adversity of its own title. “Caution – hot ashes / The girls says to her first kiss,” Bejar sings, while an operatic piano lines sweeps underneath, and with a quiet strength driving through the next eight minutes, there is little to do but surrender as sweet meditative sounds and pure bliss burn your very core.
Matthew Loosbrock is a student at UW-River Falls.