The recent Merge reissue of three early records by Destroyer offers a decent reminder of how amazing and greatly underrated Dan Bejar is as a songwriter. His enigmatic pop songs are economically crammed with enough rambling wit and glittery musical opulence to defy any attempt at proper description – clearly, this is not meant for easy listening. On “The Bad Arts”, a song off arguably Destroyer’s best album Streethawk: A Seduction (2001), Bejar moves effortlessly between foggy strands of classic popcraft and a gin-soaked atmosphere of inebriated dancing under rusted chandeliers, the music grinding on blissfully while the singer slips in his fill of wry, faintly nonsensical references to Dostoyevsky and Joy Division. A recurring theme I notice when I listen to the bunch of Destroyer songs that I adore most seems to be Bejar’s inclination to romanticize the past in his droll and patently ironic fashion (“Why did you spend the nineties cowering?” he questions on “The Bad Arts”, tongue firmly in cheek), but always delivered with a purposeful swagger that is almost celebratory and ever so entrancing. – keith.
The reissue of Streethawk: A Seduction is available from Merge Records.