Twenty five years ago, Dan Bejar began his solo project Destroyer in Canada, and early on he got compared to David Bowie upon the initial release. With this project, there’s a sophisticated realm in which the music lives. Call it sophisti-pop or adult pop, or maybe just well crafted modern pop; Bejar has taken the project much further than anyone could have imagined. With his latest release Have We Met, he expands into a realm where he has little to no contemporaries while holding your attention from beginning to end.
What transpires in these songs is the amount of time each track feels like it had placed on its creation. The beats have a certain sound that wouldn’t work with any other song. The vocals narrate while these mystifying notes dance around like spirits in our surroundings. Have We Met is a fully realized sound from Destroyer, taking their sound to a new place with Bejar as the ring leader of this new caravan of experimentation.
“Kinda Dark” has this in spades, with multiple layers of tone and sounds that come out of nowhere. Do they work on another track, or is it just here where that’s the case? It’s difficult to tell, yet each track has its own ethos. “It Just Doesn’t Happen” has this eighties Spandau Ballet kind of feel, though it’s not dated. Just this space where minimalism meets orchestrated synth pop. “The Raven” feels like the space where acts like Jarvis Cocker wished he could inhabit and Noel Gallagher hoped for the introspection to write for.
The entire release has this sheen of cool, though it’s also not pretentious. Where “Cue Synthesizer” has a very inward tone and “Have We Met” comes off as an intimate question to one’s self; the best song on the album comes with “foolssong.” The mixture of keys with synths creates a very ethereal feel, the pacing has the grace of early Lou Reed with the sophistication of Patti Smith. The track has these Leonard Cohen moments as well in how it’s arranged, yet this is all Destroyer and not a mimic of these acts. The song reminds you of so much that came out prior, but it also stands alone. The searing guitar that pierces the song feels like NYC circa 1972, when art was art and music was considered art as well. If that’s what Bejar was going for, then it’s safe to say that Have We Met is definitely art.
Have We Met can be purchased physically directly from Merge Records. The album is also available to stream or to download. Destroyer is on tour beginning February 21 in Portland, OR at Aladdin Theater until May 07 in Leeds, UK at Brudenell Social Club. Their complete tour schedule is available here.
Image Credits: Photo by Ted Bois.