October 13, 2002

Destroyer "This Night"

I'll be honest: this has been a difficult record for me. This Night is a dark, hard, thick nut to try to crack, and I'm not really sure if what I've done really starts to shed some light on what Destroyer's done here. Dan Bejar's one of these fellows who, for some time now, has been subject of press chatter and praise. I've often wondered if things get praised as brilliant and genius simply because they're dark and difficult to assess and terribly complex, and Destroyer's one of those bands that I think gets labeled as such.

I'm hearing a lot of pop-culture references here: so far, I've heard references and allusions to the following: Sonic Youth, the Smiths, Truman Capote, Bob Seeger, Walt Disney, Van Morrison, Elvis Costello, Field and Stream magazine, Neil Young, and these are just the things I've recognized. Apparently, Bejar's into pop-culture based commentary, as his album Thief was apparently a rather oblique commentary on the music industry. How these things fall together is probably understood only by Bejar. Does this mean that Bejar is stating a sexual attraction to Snow White when he references her in the context of a melody that's a blatant rip-off of Bad Company's "Feel Like Makin' Love"? It's not for me to say, but it's what I'm hearin'.

Bejar and company have created a thick, dark folk-rock concept album that's darker than the night that they're sinigng about. Obtuse lyrics that I really don't feel qualified to interpret, made all the more interesting and yet frustrating by Bejar's singing which is a whelp that has a tenuous relationship with that thing we would normally call the melody. Imagine a power meeting of Bowie and the Legendary Stardust Cowboy and Syd Barrett where they all get together and do some really major herb and righteous peyote while lookin' at the sky, and maybe you'll be there. A challenging record that really defies description, other than the fact that it's an epic epoch rock record. This Night is a real grower of a record, and is certainly not an easy listen. If you like a challenge, then This Night is for you. PS--for a halloween-like scare, listen to this record on headphones in a dark room at midnight.

--Joseph Kyle

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