Thursday, February 16, 2006

No, I wasn't born to rock

Play it: Destroyer This Night
Stream: "Here Comes the Night"
Stream: "Trembling Peacock"
Play it: New Pornographers - Bejar Contributions
Relax trembling peacock
No I wasn't born to rock
Oh I was just plain born
and then I kinda grew
and then, well Vancouver made me, I guess it's true
That shaking you feel is the rumbling of the impending release of Destroyer's Rubies, from New Pornographer Dan Bejar's outfit Destroyer. Many believe it to be his breakthrough, and it is quite good, from the half of the album I've been listening to. In anticipation of that, I thought I'd tackle the first two-thirds of his Vancouver trilogy (City Of Daughters and Thief,) as they were in Rhapsody when I last wrote about Bejar (for The New Pornographers Twin Cinema release.) But, alas, at some point since then, they've been removed from the Rhaplibrary. All that's left is Destroyer's Merge debut, This Night (2002,) and while it's an excellent album (many folks' fave) with plenty to write about, it wasn't what I was prepared for, so forgive this quickly put-together fumbled review/profile.

To talk about This Night, you have to go back to the previous three albums (City Of Daughters, Thief, and Streethawk: A Seduction) for the back story. This trilogy about his home city of Vancouver was obviously a labor of love for Bejar, and when it was finished, I suppose it's appropriate that he had to get out of his beloved city for the next album. Bejar spent a lot of time in the Mile-End neighborhood Montreal, and much of This Night reflects that (like "Here Comes the Night:")
So you stole that Schwinn and rode out into the Winner's Circle of the Sun
Now Mile-End is claiming ‘Hey you're one of those! Take off those clothes! You're one of them!
Where previous releases felt very calculated (and Bowie-esque) Bejar here finds himself trying to both stretch out and contract Destroyer's sound, adding more 'rock' to it, yet keeping it as loose as possible (perhaps Neil Young-esqe?) I liken it to Neil Young's Tonight's The Night, and Bejar kind of acknowledges (and refutes) it with his "Tonight is not your Night" refrain in "Self Portrait With Thing" (visit Bejar-O-Matic for more obtuse lyrical fun.)

This Night not the best starting point for the unitiated (until this coming Tuesday's release, that honor goes to Streethawk: A Seduction,) as it's sprawling and unfocused, almost as if listening to songs still being worked out. But it is the best precursor, style-wise, to ever approaching Rubies, with it's rock instrumentation. Tracks like "Here Comes the Night" and "Trembling Peacock" contain some of Bejar's best moments caught on tape, and the album, while excessively long in all respects, has a lot to offer the patient listener - especially given all it's context, both chronologically in Destroyer's cannon, and geographically in Bejar's head.

Already a Destroyer's Rubies Drinking Game?
Bejar-O-Matic Lyric Dispenser
The Destroyer Wiki
Six Eyes' Dan Bejar Interview (Feb 6, 2006)
"The Enigma Next Door" Discorder (February, 2006)

The New Pornographers' Twin Cinema

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