Destroyer: Trouble in Dreams

By: Sarah Moore

Destroyer seems more like a project than a band. Founded by vocalist/guitarist Dan Bejar (New Pornographers), the "band" has featured a rotating cast since its inception in 1995. Trouble In Dreams (Merge) is the latest release, featuring grand scale epics that inspire and folk that humbles.

Bejar recalls David Bowie with his vocals, a mixture of sung and spoken words that sometimes end up sounding flat. Also, he brings to mind Fred Schneider in the B-52s' "Love Shack." His accent comes forth sounding more British than his native Vancouver in British Columbia. He switches modes between calm folk and grandiose rock, all with instrumentation that defies the number of instruments used. The symphonic keyboards and synthesizers were arranged by Ted Bois.

Trouble In Dreams has glam-rock grandeur, although the album seems a bit discombobulated at times. Bejar's cryptic poetry focuses on several themes, from nostalgia to the beach, and his songs sometimes feel more like short stories than poetic lines, as is the case with "Shooting Rockets (From the Desk of Night's Ape)." The song first appeared on an album by another Bejar project, Swan Lake. "Rockets" appears more as several paragraphs than lines of poetry. It should be noted also that a potato was used during the recording of "Rockets."

The album opens with the guitar and piano-accompanied "Blue Flower/Blue Flame," a stripped-down piece that smoothes the airway for the impending symphonic rock onslaught. "Dark Leaves Form a Thread" takes off running despite its meek introduction. Percussion enters the picture for the first time with intermittent breaks for a piano-y piano-sound backing Bejar's nasal vocals. For the final selection, "Libby's First Sunrise," percussion disappears (except for handclaps) and the album's sound returns to how it began. From the title, one might expect a clean song about one's child seeing the sunrise for the first time. Instead, the song chastises an unfaithful lover. "You've been wandering around / You've been fucking around," Bejar proclaims. The placid nature of the strings fades out, and "Libby" wipes the slate clean for another onslaught to begin.

JamBase | Canada
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[Published on: 5/18/08]

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