Notorious Lightning and Other Works
Last year I missed my chance to review Destroyer’s Your Blues, an album that I’ve since heard bandied around as being heir apparent in The Arcade Fire’s 2004 reign. Lucky me then that this 6-song EP of selections from Your Blues should surface in my mailbox recently.
The story goes like this: Destroyer’s Daniel Bejar, in need of a touring band, enlisted his pals from British Columbia’s Frog Eyes. Together they took the minimalist brilliance of Bejar’s last album and turned it into maximalist brilliance. Enamored with the new arrangements, the band went into the studio and recorded a handful of tracks after concluding their tour. Notorious Lightning and Other Works is the result.
Coming off like David Bowie fronting The Microphones, the reworkings are simultaneously tightly knit and spacious. The 9-minute sprawling opener, “Notorious Lightning,” starts with an arrhythmic jangle of guitar, nurtured by a strong synth line, that blossoms into all-out noise. The fevers eventually calm, and the song fades out only to breeze back in, drenched in tremolo guitar and Bejar’s wordless emoting. It’s all this good. “New Ways of Living” features a great 21st century burlesque on its coda, while “The Music Lovers” has a great shuffling-verses-to-space-odyssey-chorus structure. “Your Blues” feels like an unreleased single from The Decemberists, peopled with errant characters from some great war, with instrumentation that chugs along in a work song, still finding strength to support a sprightly and optimistic pipe organ melody.
This is the earliest entry in my favorite releases of 2005.