I could try to pass myself off as hip and say, "I've been listening to Destroyer since '96." But I shamefully admit that for many years I tuned out everything critics said about Dan Bejar (the brains behind Destroyer's brawn) and his peculiar lyrical musings and grandiose perception of song. However, after I heard a friend call the MIDI-opus that is Your Blues (the band's fifth full-length) the greatest drama-rock album of all time, I finally gave in. For two years now, I have obsessed over Your Blues.
At the time of last fall's concert at the Showbox, logic dictated that Destroyer had to perform their latest album live. Obviously, all the sounds on Your Blues were electronically fabricated—an orchestra of synths with numerous vocal overdubs—but in an age where anyone can sit in front of a laptop and call it a concert, surely Bejar could tap away on a synthesizer and belt out a few tunes. Or at the very least, reinterpret the album the way he did on tour with Frog Eyes and for the EP Notorious Lightning and Other Works. Besides, while the fake French horns and timpani helped buttress the flamboyance of Your Blues, it was really Bejar's passionate croon that sold his baroque gimmickry as true genius.
I stood there on the Showbox floor, feigning interest in the cornball pop of Immaculate Machine, drowning my mounting anxiety with whiskey. "This is it!" I thought. "I'm finally going to hear Your Blues live!" But when Bejar and company cracked into their set, my heart started to tumble. I knew about the other albums, yet I couldn't figure out why no one else seemed to care about the absence of Your Blues material. At the end of every song, my anticipation rose and my stomach fluttered: "Maybe this next song," I hoped. But I was wrong—Destroyer played nothing off my beloved album. And when the band put down their instruments, I could have died right there. It was the biggest disappointment of my adult life.
I didn't even stay for the New Pornographers. I got in my car, rolled down the windows, and drove around downtown blasting Your Blues. I was exacting my revenge.
So you can imagine my lackadaisical response when I heard about the band's latest album, Destroyer's Rubies. I had since checked out Streethawk: A Seduction, Thief, and This Night, and none of them could stand up to Your Blues' quirky brilliance. When I finally came around to Destroyer's Rubies, its whimsical coalescence of all of Bejar's previous works invigorated me. All the live instruments were back, but the bombast had not waned. Every song soared with an epic mix of Bejar's cocksure singing and ranting, while his lyrics continued to transcend linearity to achieve a detailed, cinematic quality. After a few plays, I was resigned to the fact that last year's disappointment was brought on by my own sophomoric idolatry, and then I went online and bought two tickets to the upcoming Destroyer gig at the Crocodile. Plus, all my contempt over last year's performance was soothed after I actually voiced my grievance with Bejar himself.
"Sorry, man," he said in a sincere, concerned tone over the phone from Vancouver. This was meant to be a formal interview, where I ask him about the bands he likes and if he has any plans to play with the New Pornographers again. But really it was just me bitching about how he didn't play anything from Your Blues on the last tour, and Bejar being sympathetic. "It's cool that you liked it," he said. "But for the most part I think people thought the record was okay, but kind of weird."
He continued to explain that the Destroyer sets from last fall's shows were based around convenience more than anything else. Since John Collins and David Carswell from the Pornographers contributed to Streethawk and Thief, most of the songs performed were from those albums.
As we continued to talk, all my pent-up angst began to fade. Bejar seemed to be a really nice guy. I smiled and mused to myself, I can't hold a grudge against him, he is free to perform whatever he wants, and I will enjoy it. Besides, to steal a phrase, a dragon does need room to run, run, run, run...email@example.com