City of Daughters / Thief 2LP
Reissue of the second and third Destroyer albums (not including cassettes), back on vinyl where they belong, and in superior versions. The original City of Daughters LP suffered from frequency related glitches which caused it to skip on many turntables. The original Thief mix was never satisfying and the LP/CD was shoddily mastered into mono. Now Thief has been remixed by the original team of Dan Bejar, David Carswell and John Collins at JC/DC Studios and is available in the intended stereo for the first time ever. Both albums have been remastered by Roger Seibel at SAE Mastering and have never sounded better. The two covers have been re-worked by original artist Lester Smolenksi and printed by Stoughton as an "old style", tip-on, gatefold jacket.
Initial pressing of 1026 copies. SOLD OUT.
Destroyer – “Bay of Pigs” b/w “Ravers” 12” (Merge) / City of Daughters/Thief 2xLP (Nominal)
Far be it from me to make comparisons between records at the opposite ends of one artist’s career, but it’s important to note – especially through records as different as these three – the similarities, to locate the commonalities that make someone who’s put forth as much material as Dan Bejar, née Destroyer, the sort of songwriter who can sustain such a long period of development and change. 2000’s Thief is my favorite Destroyer effort, one of the finest works of the past decade, and those who may have passed on his later works seriously need to come back to this one and its follow-up (Streethawk: A Seduction). They’re some of the best glam-comfort-panoramic pop of their kind, every bit as relevant to recent times as Stranded or Nadir’s Big Chance or The Psychomodo were to the early-to-mid ‘70s, Bejar’s wispy voice, obtuse yet learned lyrics (somewhere between Franklin Bruno and Al Stewart in verbiage and tone) and sure-footed studio musicianship – something rather unheard of in its time and place for a budget, three-way-split recording – was revelatory. This is one of the Big Modern Records I come back to, not the Arcade Fire or Neutral Milk Hotel, not Radiohead or Dirty Projectors, but this one. That it’s packaged with its lesser predecessor City of Daughters is no great shakes, considering the sums both were fetching online not long before the repackaging of these two. Think of it as a bonus disc to the real prize. And thank Nominal, an already great punk label out of Vancouver, for seeing these releases through to a quality end product, properly mastered and presented. Limited to 1026 copies, and ‘Mericans can get them cheaper through Merge.
I saw Destroyer play soon after Thief’s release, in the basement of the old Knitting Factory on Leonard St. – and to tie this together, I think Mr. Bruno was even opening, in some manner of duet with Jenny Toomey. Two songs in and it was just Bejar alone, and after the second Dylan cover I headed out the door and into the subway. I simply couldn’t take it – what must have been a way to challenge himself, in whatever fathomable manner that might be, turned my excitement into disappointment and boredom. Fans of this unpredictable side of Disco Danny Destroyer will welcome his latest release, a two-song 12” that, even at 20 minutes is unbelievably bloated for an EP. Eschewing the guitar for synths and some light, non-committal dance beats, Bejar seems lost, allowing “Bay of Pigs” to ebb into a stalled end, even after some promising, if incredibly fey, synth-pop, and “Ravers” to never get off the ground at all. For an electronic record by a singer-songwriter, Bejar could’ve had this one both ways, and his decision to choose neither – the big hit and the experimental B-side choose not to sleep in the same bed, but one on the couch – is perplexing as the arc of various points in his career. And yet, we still listen; nothing like a surprise to reaffirm why. It’s just not here, but it’s in the reissue, willfully obscured for far too long.
DISCORDER Vancouver Best of the Decade
At times, Dan Bejar has seemed all too willing to embrace his Destroyer moniker. Ever prepared to shuffle his backing band, change musical course or unceremoniously abandon fan-favourite songs, the enigmatic songwriter has managed to entrance and confound listeners in equal measure. Despite the persistent changes, there’s been one constant to Bejar’s craft. Whether set to the bombastic squalls of This Night, spare synthesizers of Your Blues or “accessible” indie rock of Destroyer’s Rubies, each new offering has solidified Bejar’s status as one of the finest wordsmiths currently slinging a six-string.
Over the course of eight records, Bejar has developed a lyrical methodology so idiosyncratic that it’s actually spawned an unofficial drinking game. For instance, listeners are invited to drink twice “whenever a ‘meta’ lyric refers to the song in progress or elements thereof.” Stridently self-referential and reflective, Destroyer’s imagery-rich, labyrinthine compositions both demand and reward repeat listens. Furthermore, Bejar also possesses a knack for disarming candour, exemplified by such self-effacing (and utterly romantic) lines as: “I was looking good on the day you fell for the way I looked.”
Vancouver has produced an abundance of talented musicians in the past decade, but none of them can equal Bejar for fearless reinvention and inspired artistry.