DESTROYER –  ” Labrynthitis “

Posted: June 15, 2022 in MUSIC

Dan Bejar said that when he and regular collaborator John Collins first started talking about making the album that became “Labrynthitis”, they originally wanted to make a full-on electronic dance album, with “slamming techno,” acid house and maybe dash of late-’90s Cher. And that is apparently where Dan thought Collins would take his skeletal song-sketches he sent to him, but “in the end, that’s not what we made, because we make what we know, and we don’t really know those things.”  “Labrynthitis” is still very much a dance record but one informed by the ’80s, from the over-the-top production of Trevor Horn (ABC, Frankie Goes to Hollywood, Art of Noise) to peak New Order, John Hughes soundtracks. There’s also a little actual ’70s-style disco sprinkled throughout.

With more contributions from the rest of the band — drummer Josh Wells adds immeasurable thump and thwock — than any album since “Poison Season“,  “Labrynthitis” falls somewhere between the rain-soaked swoon of “Kaputt” and Have We Met’s computer-processed sheen. It’s easily Destroyer’s most danceable record to date, but Bejar’s lyrics, written during the pandemic’s first wave, give everything an undercurrent of dread. On “It Takes a Thief,” the album’s most relentlessly upbeat song — at 145 BPM it’s like The Style Council’s “Shout it to the Stop” on speed — he sings “up in flames, another way of saying goodbye.” On “The States,” which has house music origin you can feel just a little, he sings “No matter how you frame it, sun ain’t gonna shine.”

Trying to discern too much meaning out of Bejar’s lyrics, though, is a bad idea. The best approach is to just let his words and always delightful delivery wash over you. In the process, lines will stick, be it “Ruff Ruff goes the beagle to the terrier” “Eat the Wine, Drink the Bread”, “You lose your umbrella to the sideways rain” “The States”, “Fancy language dies and everyone’s happy to see it go” “June” or “The ceiling’s on fire and the contract is binding” “Tintoretto It’s For You”.

John Collins really outdid himself on the production, from the sweaty insanity of the aforementioned “It Takes a Thief,” to the lush opener “It’s In Your Heart Now” that channels both New Order and Disintegration-era Cure (lots of bass as lead instrument), to the crashing melancholic grandeur of “All My Pretty Dresses.” The wildest combination of prose and production, though, comes in “June,” a six-minute extravaganza that starts as a sexytime disco number and then makes a left turn at the halfway point where Dan heads into spoken word jazz odyssey territory, somewhere between Jim Morrison and Barry White, rattling off lines like “Low-born Madonna / With her typewriters in the rain / Clacking their misfortunes, Speech, Speech!” as the cowbell kicks in and spaced-out trumpets swirl around. Only in Bejar-land.

Just when you’ve got  “Labrynthitis” halfway figured out, in comes “The Last Song,” which is just Dan and his guitar in sing-a-long mode. It makes the most sense of anything on the record, distilling the rollercoaster ride of the last two years, a glorious hangover on a perfect morning: Again, with Destroyer it’s best just to go with the flow. “There’s just a lot of wild moves,” Dan says of the album, noting that he and John Collins ended up trying “to make the most disorienting record we could.” Mission accomplished in the best possible way.

When the record ends with a lo-fi acoustic singalong that could have fit on a 1990s Destroyer record, and you realize how much ground Dan Bejar has covered since those days

Destroyer (the project of Dan Bejar) released a new album,  “Labrynthitis” via Merge Records. but there was one album track we really liked “It Takes a Thief,” which is relatively short when compared to the album’s other singles (the last one was seven minutes long).

Previously Destroyer shared the first single from  “Labrynthitis” “Tintoretto, It’s for You,” via an atmospheric video for it.

 “Labrynthitis” is the follow-up to 2020’s “Have We Met”. It was written mainly in 2020 and recorded in spring 2021. Bejar once again worked with regular collaborator John Collins, this time under lockdown conditions, with Bejar in Vancouver and Collins on the nearby remote Galiano Island. The Destroyer band then came in to flesh out some of the songs prior to mixing. The Books, Art of Noise, New Order, and disco are all cited as reference points in a press release announcing the album.

Released March 25th, 2022

Dan Bejar: vocals, synth, guitar
Ted Bois: piano, synth
Nicolas Bragg: guitar
David Carswell: guitar
JP Carter: trumpet
John Collins: bass, synth, guitar, drum programming
Joshua Wells: drums, percussion

Dan Bejar’s 13th “Destroyer” album is dizzying, dazzling, and disorientating disco as only he could make.

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