February 01, 2005

Destroyer "Notorious Lightning and Other Works"

Last year, when Destroyer released Your Blues, it was a stunning record that showed the possibility of a man and his midi. Lush, grandiose pop songs with a hint of glam-rock, it stood in contrast to the previous Destroyer record, This Night which was as plodding and dull as a Russian novel. But Your Blues, as good as it is, was going to prove difficult to reproduce live--a man and a computer, it just don't work onstage. So, for his tour, he hired members of the band Frog Eyes to accompany him. Notorious Lightning and Other Works is a six-song collection of songs from Your Blues, recorded with the touring lineup of Destroyer.

Having not had the benefit of seeing that revamped version of Destroyer live, I have no idea how the collaboration came off in a live setting, but I know one thing's for sure: their studio collaboration is a sloppy, unorganized and amateurish mess. It literally sounds as if they simply recorded their rehearsals and called it a record. Maybe they were trying to capture the spontanety of their live show or maybe they thought that the shambles of songs they produced actually sounded good--whatever the case, they were mistaken, because this record is simply too sloppy to really be enjoyed.

What makes the sloppiness of Notorious Lightning even more frustrating is that the songs themselves were already pretty good to begin with. The clandestine accompaniment on "New Ways of Living" and "An Actor's Revenge" simply egg on Bejar's...umm...unique vocal style, helping these songs to slide down the toilet pipes quicker than they should be. Don't get me wrong; a sloppy style can be interesting and rewarding in its own way, but more often than not, it's simply...bad. The only moment that's kind of rewarding is the blues-like "Don't Become The Thing You Hated," simply because the band restrains itself from its tendency to go wild with the arrangments.

And that's the ultimate flaw of Notorious Lightning and Other Works. It was an interesting concept, but as there's simply no restraint in the execution, it disappoints. Perhaps these songs don't translate from their midi-band state, or maybe the arrangements don't translate outside of the live setting for which they were intendend. Whatever the case may be, you should try a little harder next time, guys.

--Joseph Kyle

Label Website: http://www.mergerecords.com

No comments: