HEY! Get updates to this and the CD and 7" blogs via Twitter: @VinylUnderbite

Sunday, 24 June 2012

Destroyer - 'Thief' (Cave Canem/Triple Crown Audio/Catsup Plate)

Why does one listen to a pop song over and over and over? The 'earworm' nature of a good hook surely releases some rush of endorphins, as well as the pleasures of familiarity. Then there's the case of meaning, construction and the moments in which one can be moved by a vocal delivery, an instrumental gesture, or other moment. In this case, I've been listening to Thief and it's followup CD (Streethawk) for well over a decade, amassing a ridiculous number of listens, without really understanding why. There's a lot of meaning for me in these songs, though I struggle to explain it. I certainly fell in love with Destroyer the first time I heard the lyric "Please spring us, Madeleine, from these rustic jails of lust we're living in" but I sure don't fucking understand it. Thief follows the City of Daughters sound, though the Emax synth interludes are accented with electric piano -- 'Every Christmas' is the halfway point of the disc and it does a nice job of letting down the adrenaline after the rushes of 'Falcon's Escape' and 'City of Daughters' (like Queen, Destroyer doesn't feel obligated to put the title tracks on the same albums they are named after) -- and 'M.E.R.C.I.' adds hazy vocals to the mix . You can certainly hear over the first five Destroyer records the creep towards more grandiose and ambitious arrangements, though some of  Thief 's best moments are when this is stripped back, like the title track which is a massively underrated gem. 'Destroyer's the Temple' is the classic it deserves to be, and still the first song I would play for anyone interested in Bejar as a songwriter. If you don't like this tune, you won't like Destroyer cause it's all there: the strange singing voice with it's dramatic flareups, oblique yet intriguing lyrics, and perfectly balanced pop hooks. This feels significantly more 'band' than the last record as there are some moments of true instrumental prowess - the energy of 'To The Heart of the Sun On the Back Of the Vulture, I'll Go' and the aforementioned 'Falcon's Escape' are two such examples, both titles involving birds of prey and with circles and swoops to reflect it. There's little solo acoustic strum here, as it's quickly fleshed out by organ, drums, and the rest of it. But this Destroyer is sharp -'Queen of Languages' has a pinpoint precision to it's swing, and 'The Way of Perpetual Roads' is more rhythmically complex than it looks. Everything about Thief is a bit unusual for its time - the arrangements, the scope, and even the cover art suggest an attempt to be something different than another indierock songwriter. If Canada is a parallel universe to the US, which is what it seemed like in the 90s (cite the Blue Pine CD for another example), than this was exactly the bizarro genius doppleganger to all the Malkmuses (Malkmii?) and Pollards I was so otherwised immersed in.

No comments:

Post a Comment