Yes, we have ourselves a new Destroyer, Trouble In Dreams, though it seems like Dan Bejar’s always with us. Whether it’s contributing myriad great tunes to a New Pornographers album or running co-pilot in the Yukon with his lady Sydney Vermont in Hello, Blue Roses (Vermont put her art skills to use, painting Trouble’s cover), seems we can’t go long without hearing his distinctive warble. Minus Scott Morgan, Trouble includes the same backup band as on 2006′s Destroyer’s Rubies — there’s a well-worn, comfortable fluidity running counter to the verbal stream-of-consciousness. In some ways, Trouble is more reined in than Rubies, but Bejar can only be reined in so much. A chorus is something that bears repeating, as he puts it.

Trouble opens simply with the strummed and soloed acoustic-leaning “Blue Flower/Blue Flame.” (Compare this opener for “Rubies,” for an idea of where the albums stand.) The link to Hello, Blue Roses seems clear, though who knows? What we do know, is that Bejar remains the king of sweet-talking pick-up lines: “Blue Flower/Blue Flame, a woman by another name is not a woman. / I’ll tell you what I mean by that. Maybe not in seconds flat, maybe not today..” and “I gave you a flower because foxes travel light and a penny for your thought was never enough / you’re head gets filled with that stuff.” Yeah, we could go on quoting this guy for hours. Brilliant words (and delivery), per usual. And the ennui in his voice on this one is fucking great: “It was time I decided to try this hotel: / her world…”

After that, things lean towards the baroque (an overused word, but that’s what it is…). Before going full-on large-scale, he has a couple briefer tunes, the catchy, trilling, windswept “Dark Leaves A Thread” and its piano and organ lines, cafĂ© cool (“No, it’s cool / You go. / I’ll stay, perfectly home with this dread…”) and “na na na na” chorusing. Then things get uproarious with the heavily percussive, protest anthem of sorts, “The State” (the state even tore down his baby’s favorite tree). We’ve seen a live “Foam Hands” (with another excellent, more ragtime album track “Rivers” … “you’ve always had a problem flowing down rivers…”) and heard the sweet, gorgeous, stringed and tambourined album track.

Which leads us to the almond-eating, palm-tree coveting standout “My Favorite Year,” with its “beware the company you reside in!” brimstone repetitions, uncredited female (or male falsetto?) backup vocals, and untiring build. And then he sings this: “Nicole – she, blasted on ecstasy / in some East Pendar hovel circa 1993. / It was a good year, it was a very good year. / And now it’s gone, / they’re saying the whole point of everything’s the ’moving on.’ / Well, I can’t help but feel somewhat opposed to this, / my shit having been torched by fascists. / Though, in some small way, we’re all traitors to our own kind….” Yowza. It’s also where the increased orchestral moments are most felt: the slowly fading strings, Bejar’s count-off, the newborn guitar flange, and a strummed outro.

We don’t love everything on here, but he knows how to pull off audacity with the best of ’em — the short story in a song, Swan Lake-referencing “Shooting Rockets (From The Dark Of Night’s Ape),” anyone? He can also do tenderness: See the common scars of “Introducing Angels” and the muted histrionics (“Oh, the light!”) of the closer, “Libby’s First Sunrise.” Lots of guitar and hand claps, as though the sunrise of “Blue Flower/Blue Flame” turned dark (“the light holds a terrible secret”), its crispness given a larger, back-loaded exit. Across Trouble, nighttime, the horizon, and the sky in general come up often, and this seems to be the culmination of whatever Bejar’s working out lyrically (we need more time to get to the bottom of the entire affair).

Whatever the case, a darn good record. This new year has already brought us a few good albums from idiosyncratic lyricists/songwriters. We’re thinking, especially, of recent PE’s documenting John Darnielle’s Heretic Pride and Mr. Malkmus’s Real Emotional Trash. (If you’re keeping track, this is our favorite of those three.) Seems kind of like a sausage party, no? We had Beach House in there, but the last straight-up, big-time female personality we covered was Chan Marshall, who’s conversely making her stuff (or, at least her covers) more smooth and Starbucks. Hurry up, Joanna, record something new.

In the meantime, some “Foam Hands,” friend:

Trouble In Dreams is out 3/18 on Merge.

Destroyer - Trouble In Dreams

Tags:  
Comments (13)
  1. Ryan  |   Posted on Feb 8th, 2008 0

    Even when he’s not at his best Bejar blows everything else away. Well done, Dan.

  2. j wiggles o reilly  |   Posted on Feb 8th, 2008 0

    bejar blows it the butt of salmon, hammin it up like my man schoo schtammin/ i am so dope, i shoot dope like a dope/ in my butt with julian cope, without enough rope/ to swing to the smell, la county weird rippers/ you trippers dont do acid do bruce willis

    willis

    willis

  3. Beverage Joe  |   Posted on Feb 8th, 2008 0

    Beyar’s the best.

  4. jules  |   Posted on Feb 8th, 2008 0

    it’s not as instantly lovable as rubies but it still fucking rocks. bejar’s the man. my favorite moment is when he goes “jenny fell like a ton of bricks!”

  5. schmeditor  |   Posted on Feb 8th, 2008 0

    “In some ways, Trouble is more reigned in than Rubies, but Bejar can only be reigned in so much.”

    “REINED in.” Unless you were actually trying to say that someone is brandishing a scepter throughout the crevasses of Dan Bejar’s deep, dark, beautiful soul.

  6. matt b  |   Posted on Feb 8th, 2008 0

    i agree it’s not instantly as good as rubies but that record was fucking incredible, especially the opener “rubies”. but it’s definitely the only good record i’ve been listening to lately.

  7. bleep  |   Posted on Feb 9th, 2008 0

    um, vancouver, ftw!

  8. i tell 'ya what i mean by that  |   Posted on Feb 9th, 2008 0

    a woman by another name is not a woman

  9. Bejar is the man. Agree with Ryan, even when he sucks he’s sucks loudly and gloriously.

  10. @ schmeditor

    You’re right — both about Bejar’s deep, dark, beautiful soul and the misspelling. Fixed.

  11. Nate  |   Posted on Feb 9th, 2008 0

    Those who have been to the Music Hall of Wburg, would it be wise to go to that show or the Bowery one?

    ALSO: The new Why? needs a premature eval. The album is bonkers.

  12. ev  |   Posted on Feb 10th, 2008 0

    east pender, not ‘pendar’. tis a street in vancouver

  13. eric  |   Posted on Mar 4th, 2008 0

    holy shit, this guy blows me away.

    btw, “FTW” is the stupidest messenger acronym i’ve ever rofled @.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post, reply to, or rate a comment.

%s1 / %s2