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Music Review: Destroyer – Trouble In Dreams

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I’m not sure what the history of the band name Destroyer is, but I think I can safely say that the band’s name is not indicative of the band’s music. Well, not unless you regularly hear voices during the middle of the night and have trouble sleeping.

In 1995, Vancouver-based Daniel Bejar formed Destroyer, and the band’s eighth full-length LP Trouble In Dreams is one diverse and sometimes strange album. Even through the opening track “Blue Flower/Blue Flame” one can hear both the subtleties of perfect poetry (“A grey ashen sadness rises like the sun”) and the obvious signs of having an incomplete mind (“A woman by another name is not a woman / Don’t know why”).

I’m teasing, but the music has an odd casualness to it. It might just be Bejar’s style, but his staggered, almost awkward singing in “The State” can mistakenly misrepresent his stuff as offbeat while serving as a prelude to the deep, more mysterious songs like the Pink Floyd-esque “Shooting Rockets (From The Desk Of Night's Ape)” and the regrettably depressing-sounding “Foam Hands.”

While I can’t tell you what the foam hands stand for or mean, those words do illustrate the often cryptic nature of Bejar’s lyricism. While certain lines might make sense, putting them together describes something that doesn’t quite make sense, as in “Rivers” with the lyrics “You had a real time of it staring off into the light / Hands tied behind your head / Steel chair giving you shivers.” Yeah, stumps me too.

Toward the album’s end, Bejar unveils an attitude that remained subtle at the beginning and now has turned more apathetic, maybe even disillusioned. His approach is accentuated by the perfect accompaniment of guitars, drums, and the keyboard, like in the very bluesy “Leopard of Honour” or eclectic “Plaza Trinidad.”

Trouble In Dreams evokes the sense of it being simultaneously all over the place and not so. Destroyer mixes it up often, but maintains their steady course. To what, I just cannot say for certain.

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About Tan The Man

I am a proud dork and loser.
  • http://blogcritics.org/writer/eric_whelchel Eric Whelchel

    Nice write-up for an under-appreciated album from a truly underrated band. “City of Daughters” and “Rubies” are also great albums.