I've decided that I'm not going to fall into the same trap other writers often do when trying to review one of Dan Bejar's dense, serpentine releases. I refuse to get up on my soapbox and plod through a thesis that vainly attempts to extract every reference and metaphor out of Destroyer's Rubies, his seventh full-length as Destroyer. You, the reader, would be bored by it, and I the auteur (if I may be so bold) would fail miserably in my attempt. Fact is, a Destroyer album doesn't have to be gone over with a fine-tooth comb to be enjoyed. Regardless of whether the Michaels and Andrews of the world don't see it, there's plenty to enjoy in Bejar's work, even if you don't understand the personal significance of every reference. (See what I just did there?)
"Dueling cyclones jackknife/ They got eyes for your wife and the blood that lives in her heart." What personal significance does this ambiguous opening line of "Rubies" have to Bejar? More important, who cares? Somewhere along the way, we as a culture started expecting musicians to spell everything out for us in their lyrics, and when they don't want to play the dumb-down game, we make it our personal crusade to tap into their gray matter. It's a bizarre trend, and we're worse off for it. Sure, it might be fun to try and delve into Bejar's psyche by venturing into the labyrinth of his wordplay, but this is supposed to be art, not science. Music fans seem to be afraid of bringing their own subjective meaning of a song into discussion. We could all stand to learn something from the patrons of the other arts. Instead of hopelessly trying to understand Bejar's meaning behind his words, we shouldn't be afraid to find our own buried within his poetry. That's right: I said poetry.
The other trap I refuse to fall into is trying to justify Bejar's singing voice (even though it has improved this time out). This element of Destroyer's music is going to be divisive, as readers of our message board well know. Right Austin? Matthew? (I'm doing it again.) Still, those who choose to fixate on Bejar's lack of a pretty singing voice are missing the point. Much like John Darnielle, everything outside of Bejar's verse should be seen as peripheral -- a means to deliver the lyrical ends. Within this context, it's hard to deny Bejar's excellence in his chosen medium.
Prefix review: Destroyer [Your Blues] by Jenny Yuen
Prefix review: Destroyer [Big City Sin and Small-Town Redemption] by China Bialos
Prefix review: The New Pornographers [Electric Version]