If you’re only familiar with Dan Bejar from his contributions to New Pornographers’ Mass Romantic, you’ll find his work with day-job band Destroyer a completely different animal. The catchy, retro new wave cheese of that record here gives way to plenty of slow motion noodling and grinding touched by hazy psychedelia, dissonance, and occasionally, strange beauty.
Bejar sings his bizarre, obtuse lyrics in an adenoidal voice that recalls Frank Black, Gary Numan and maybe Wayne Coyne of Flaming Lips. You get the feeling that Bejar isn’t just making up nonsense though. More like he’s just operating on a different plane where this music makes sense.
Tracks like the Doors-y “Hey Snow White” extend to self-indulgent lengths and the nearly seventy minute disc could have used some judicious editing. But moments of brilliance shine through. The dramatic minor key, mariachi guitars of “Chosen Few,” the mood lightening melodica and bright melody of “Modern Painters,” and the jazzy chords of “Students Carve Hearts Out of Coal” come to mind.
“Goddess Of Drought” is just Bejar and his acoustic guitar and so avoids the muddled musical trappings of other tracks here. “Trembling Peacock” adds a string section and vocal eccentricities reminiscent of Robert Smith and Robyn Hitchcock. The set closing “The Night Moves” (not the Bob Seger tune, thank God) is also the catchiest thing here, but even with a gang sing-along chorus, it doesn’t really reach out to the listener. Bejar seems unwilling to let you into his world or take you with him on this strange journey. That makes slogging through this disc more of a chore than a pleasure.