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CD Review: Destroyer – Trouble In Dreams (Rough Trade)

Destroyer - Trouble In Dreams
It’s over two years since the release of Destroyer’s last album, the utterly brilliant Destroyer’s Rubies, but Dan Bejar barely seems to have been away, releasing albums with The New Pornographers, Swan Lake and Hello, Blue Roses in the interim. Though I love his work with the New Pornos, I haven’t heard anything from the other two albums that would convince me to buy them. The release of a new Destroyer album, however, is something I have been looking forward to for some time.

Trouble In Dreams doesn’t throw up any great surprises, and it doesn’t have the consistency, nor the intensity, of Rubies, but it is still an excellent album, as long as you give it the time of day. As with most of his work, central to the album’s appeal (to me at least) are Bejar’s lyrics and his unique voice. Though I haven’t a clue what he’s singing about most of the time, I love Bejar’s lyrics, the way that every once in a while a line will jump out at you from nowhere; and the almost arch manner in which he sings them, a bit like Dylan but with crystal clear enunciation so that you can hear each and every word. He seems to acknowledge the cryptic nature of his lyrics on the low-key, and ultimately disappointing, opener “Blue Flower/Blue Flame” when he teases the listener with “I’ll tell you what I mean by that / maybe not in seconds flat / maybe never”.

Second song in the album really gets going with the exhuberant “Dark Leaves Form A Thread” and builds from there. The gorgeous “Foam Hands” is one of the most straight forward, uncomplicated songs that Bejar has ever written, and one of the best. It’s followed by “My Favourite Year” which starts with a delicious guitar riff and halfway through has Bejar yelping the line “beware the company you reside in” over and over. Either side of this outburst are two cracking verses that contain the finest vocal melodies on the album and more of Bejar’s obtuse lyricism (“let me just sit here and eat these almonds”). But these are just appetisers for the main course which arrives at the album’s mid-point in the form of “Shooting Rockets (From the Desk of Night’s Ape)”, an eight minute slow-burning epic that builds and builds and has another wonderfully simple guitar part running through Bejar’s words like a fresh water stream through a dense forest. It’s also full of the sort of lines that can jump out and hit you square in the face should your attention have been caught wandering – “Saw you down in Strathcona Square devouring an After Eight” (what’s with all the eating?) and “It’s not that I quit. It’s not that my poems are shit” being of particular note.

There’s no way left but down after this and the album tapers off, never again reaching the heights of those three previous songs. “Introducing Angels”, “Rivers” and “Leopard Of Honor” are all excellent but “Plaza Trinidad” and the closing “Libby’s First Sunrise” have yet to really sink in, though I’m sure I’ll warm to them eventually.

Trouble In Dreams is unlikely to bring in too many new fans in the way that Rubies did, but existing fans will probably devour it. Like an After Eight.

Destroyer – Foam Hands

Destroyer – My Favourite Year

Posted by The Ledge on 21st March 2008 at 1:17 am | comments (2)
File under CD Reviews,dan bejar,destroyer,mp3,Reviews,trouble in dreams.