After enjoying Destroyer’s new EP Five Spanish Songs I was pleased to
enter a real-life bizarre parallel world: the Google-translated lyrics of the Sr. Chinarro
songs that Dan Bejar covers read kind of like Destroyer lyrics, but, better
yet, Sr. Chinarro’s frontman Antonio Luque looks uncannily like Bejar himself.
Taken from the album Your Blues.
Even though Destroyer are clearly one of my favourite bands, writing about them feels uncertain — the way in which I enjoy their music feels different from almost any other band. For me, Dan Bejar’s music doesn’t really work in terms of emotional identification, or even just creating a particular aesthetic effect. Instead, Destroyer songs’ intense preoccupation with their own form seems to work kind of like a certain strain of modern art.
Your Blues isn’t the best Destroyer album, but it might be my favourite — there isn’t really anything else anything like it. Its MIDI symphonics connote tinniness, but the actual sound is dense and lush — it’s inviting at first, but the canned sounds maintain a strange cold distance. In a way, the album could be read as a goof on Destroyer’s lo-fi origins — except instead of the early four-track recordings’ low fidelity to the real events they capture, Your Blues has a metaphorical low fidelity to the sound of actual instruments. It creates a lonely space where everything’s pixelated, ghostly and unreal.
The Brooklyn Masonic Temple combines dishevelment with grandeur in a way that’s perfectly suited for Destroyer’s sonic sprawl; last night it was the setting for a fantastic show. The set alternated Kaputt tracks with older material, most of which was from Destroyer’s Rubies. Even the newer, sparer tracks acquired some of the “maximum rock” quality in abundance on Rubies, with startling dynamics and exuberant vocal phrasing.
The set had an impressive sense of narrative arc. Beginning a packed show with the muted, glowing “Your Blues” was a punk move; its alien beauty is inviting but also cold. And Dan Bejar is clearly not very comfortable in front of an audience — he performs with this weird thousand-yard stare, always keeping his gaze either above the audience or down at the beers he kept in front of the monitors. As the night went on, though, even disdainful Bejar was infected by the exuberance of these songs.
The highlight was a stretched-out version of Kaputt centerpiece “Suicide Demo for Kara Walker”, which began with several minutes of gorgeous, spectrum-dominating electronic drones produced by the creative trumpet player. It was mesmerizing to hear the song emerge from the drift to become its fascinating self — Bejar’s sour, cryptic observations strangely appropriate for the music’s muscular stomp.
Tonight I’m going to see one of my most-anticipated shows of the summer: Destroyer, at the Brooklyn Masonic Temple. Kaputt was by quite some way my favourite album last year and I’m looking forward to seeing it muscularly rendered in real-time. Dawn Garcia, who directed this video for its title track, is female, but the fantastic "dancing babysitters" segment evokes a very specific, powerful, and male feeling, of sex being sort of omnipresent but also completely unattainable and mystical. But it’s all great, as is this song, and I can’t wait to see it performed tonight.