Posts Tagged ‘Dan Bejar’

With Kaputt, which came out 10 years ago this week, Dan Bejar demolished preconceived notions of what his band Destroyer sounded like a little more than a minute into Kaputt, the first saxophone appears. It’s just a little ascending sax run leading into the second verse of “Chinatown” nothing extravagant — but then it’s back, riffing and grooving with increasing fervour, as the song approaches its gentle jazz-pop climax. There’s more sax on “Blue Eyes,” colouring in the margins around Dan Bejar’s bemused references to Beatles songs and long-dead outlaws, before his band goes full lounge-pop during the luxuriating outro of “Suicide Demo For Kara Walker”: saxophones, trumpets, and flutes twirling around each other like faded dispatches from a past era.

That inaugural saxophone, performed by Canadian musician Joseph Shabason, feels like the moment where everything changed for Destroyer. Certainly, it’s the moment where Kaputt lets you know it’s anything but just another Destroyer album.

“Kaputt” released 10 years ago today. The production details are radiant. Glistening synths flicker like strobe lights throughout the title track’s soft-disco pomp. On “Downtown” and “Song For America,” jazzy backing vocalists underline Bejar’s vocals as though they were given the night off from a Steely Dan tour. Fretless bass licks slither underneath it all with the slightest hint of reverb.

Quiet storm, sophisti-pop, smooth jazz — whatever you want to call this stuff, it wasn’t what anyone expected a big-ticket indie album to sound like in 2011. What makes it work, aside from the band’s fluid virtuosity, is that Bejar wholly commits to the bit. Nothing on Kaputt is half-assed, no part executed with a wink or a smirk. The drum sound in “Savage Night At The Opera” has just the right dainty light touch. When “Suicide Demo For Kara Walker” a sprawling meditation on race written with the visual artist Kara Walker.

Plenty of great albums locate profundity within schmaltz, but few of them are as good as Kaputt.

The songwriting on Kaputt is more rich with imagery than discernible meaning. In press materials, Bejar cited “the hopelessness of the future of music” and “the pointlessness of writing songs for today” he said he’d largely lost interest in indie-rock as a serious vehicle for lyric-writing — “I just started blurting things out in a really condensed period of time,” he said of Kaputt‘s process — and yet the album contains some of his greatest, least-fretted-over lines to date.

At the time, the album’s formless writing and sonic textures seemed like a vast departure from Destroyer’s previous LPs. In retrospect, Kaputt has its roots in two Destroyer EPs released in 2009 and 2010, respectively: Bay Of Pigs, which featured a slightly extended version of Kaputt‘s majestic closing track of the same name.


When I made Kaputt people who had one foot in ambient music and one foot in pop music and one foot in jazz and one foot in world music.”

Steely Dan’s pair of late ’70s-early ’80s classics, Aja and Gaucho, both come to mind as well, particularly for their juxtaposition of slick grooves and cynical, debauched lyrics with ample references to recreational drug consumption.

Ten years later, Kaputt isn’t just the consensus pick for Destroyer’s best album (though I might still go to bat for Rubies depending on the day). In retrospect, it’s the pivot point of the group’s entire career — the sax-soaked fulcrum that divides Destroyer’s catalogue into two distinct eras: Before Kaputt  and After Kaputt  generally had some idea of what a new Destroyer album would sound like before it arrived.

Daniel Bejar,
Pete Bourne.
Nicolas Bragg,
David Carswell,
J.P. Carter,
John Collins,
Joseph Shabason,
Sibel Thrasher,

Released January 25th, 2011


Dan Bejar’s Destroyer returned with their new album “Have We Met” via Merge Records. Have We Met caps off an arc begun almost a decade ago, when Dan Bejar released his landmark album Kaputt and entered the most accessible, acclaimed, yet no less eccentric chapter of his career. Informed by the claustrophobic atmosphere of our times, Have We Met is cerebral and absurd even by Bejar’s standards. Bizarre scenes and non-sequiturs abound. Bejar often sounds like a man slowly unravelling over greyscale, icy synth backdrops. But in the epic swell of “Crimson Tide,” was the first I heard from this album and is an immediate Destroyer classic! the new wave pulse of “It Doesn’t Just Happen,” or the sneakily catchy refrains of “The Man In Black’s Blues,” Bejar crafted apocalypse music that’s every bit as transporting as it is discomfiting.


“Have We Met” settles into disquieting grooves and atmospheres by employing the sounds of 80s soft rock and adult contemporary in ways that often feel slightly off-kilter. However, while Dan Bejar may twist a traditionally comfortable sonic palette, it is never distorted to the point of being abrasive or unapproachable. Furthermore, his lyrics may grimly reckon with the ending of things hope, love, and life as we know it

Released January 31st, 2020
The Band:
Dan Bejar: vox, synthesizer
Nicolas Bragg: guitar
John Collins: bass, synthesizer, drum programming, granular synthesis

Image may contain: one or more people, possible text that says 'Destroyer Have We Met'

I just finished listening to the new Destroyer record, Dan Bejar’s most recent release, “Have We Met” the new wave synthpop sound really gets around–even Dan Bejar’s dreamy, chamber goth has decided to evoke the Eighties in all its upbeat, mall food court ambiance. Except instead of enticing you to eat crusty Panda Express, he’s urging listeners to ponder the curse of silence, song structure and his tribute to an imaginary tribute to a Poesian Raven. Much credit must be given to his somber “It Just Doesn’t Happen” as the point where my mind switched from “oh, this is interesting” to “oh, this is worth listening.” As his higher register expands an Overton window that includes Neil Young, Nick Cave and Leonard Cohen, it’s fait accompli that his music is always on my short list of must explore–his complex conceits contrasting well with the simple musicality on this record. Bejar could hardly ask for more..

From the album “Have We Met,” Released January 31st, 2020

Destroyer Tour

Dan Bejar returns in January with his latest album,Have We Met”, which he’ll support with an extensive 2020 tour.

Destroyer came to be when, in 1996, Dan Bejar released the influential lo-fi compilation “We’ll Build Them a Golden Bridge”. Despite the poor sound quality of the recordings on the album, it managed to garner critical success thanks to its catchy melodies and Bejar’s use of obscure and sometimes downright confusion lyricism.

The follow-up, 1998’s “City of Daughters”, saw Bejar joined by John Collins. who complimented the record, and noted that it still managed to sound “homespun” despite the fact that the band had used a professional recording studio this time. Also praised was the return of Bejar’s trademark poetry, something which would become a recognisable constant throughout the band’s later output.

In 2000, they released “Thief”, an album which saw them attempt to deliver their trademark songwriting style with the help of a backing band. The album’s lyrics, many believe, conveyed Bejar’s thinly-veiled feelings of the music industry. Again, the album received generally positive reviews from major outlets.

Since then, the band has continued to progress as an entity; first by developing their character sound with “Streethawk: A Seduction” in 2001, and then returned to their roots with the rougher-sounding “This Night” in 2002. The album was mixed in less than a week and polarised critics, although Bejar himself credits it as being his favorite Destroyer record.

Many of the band’s diverse and unique influences have managed to make their impact on Destroyer releases, including Miles Davis and Roxy Music. Over the span of their nearly twenty-year career, this has allowed them to produce wildly different and adventurous works, while still managing to keep them firmly tied in to Destroyer’s philosophy and style.

From the album “Have We Met,” out January 31st, 2020.

Dan Bejar started Destroyer as a solo home-recording project in the early to mid-nineties. Exploring and overturning genressuch as glam, MIDI, yacht rock, & even underground Spanish independent artists, Bejar was proclaimed “Rock’s Exiled King” 


Originally released August 28th, 2015

Dan Bejar: vocals, midi marimba on track 8
Ted Bois: piano, yamaha d-50 on track 3
Nicolas Bragg: electric guitar
David Carswell: electric guitar, acoustic guitar, midi tuba on track 4
JP Carter: trumpet, effects
John Collins: bass
Joseph Shabason: saxophones, flutes
Josh Wells: drums, congas, bongos and various percussion

The New Pornographers emerged in 2000, a conglomerate of talent from regionally successful Canadian bands like Zumpano, Destroyer, and Limblifter. Led by A.C. Newman, the band spotlighted Neko Case’s warm, sumptuous voice and Dan Bejar’s offbeat songs on a handful of tracks each album. They had their winning formula in place right off the bat – upbeat songs with complex chord changes, ornate harmonies, and clever arrangements. You could call them indie pop, power pop, pop/rock, but if you’re a fan of intelligent studio crafted guitar pop, The New Pornographers are one of the leading exponents of the genre in the 21st century.

There’s one thing to get straight about the New Pornographers. Even if you’ve ever listened to Limblifter, Immaculate Machine, the Evaporators, and yes, Zumpano, enlisting one member apiece from these bands does not make Carl Newman’s reigning power-pop coalition a “supergroup.” The New Pornographers, long-shining indie stars themselves for 17 years now, contain exactly two members whose solo fame is comparable to or larger than that of the New Pornographers: alt-country brainiac Neko Case, and Dan Bejar, who enjoys rapturous critical acclaim as the simultaneously showy and esoteric Destroyer.

The band is also known for Newman of course, but that ain’t because of his Zumpano work. He earned his winning reputation as a magician of hooks through this very band, and sure, the PR boost from being an alleged “supergroup” (albeit one comprised of artists no one had heard of in 2000) helped that legend in ways that don’t quite make sense in 2017. But ultimately this outfit, currently stocked with eight people, is famous for doing one thing: making loads of catchy, well-harmonized tunes whose often mysterious lyricism genuinely appears to have meaning to it, even if it’s often hard to decipher.

By contrast, their hooks are some of indie-rock’s most roundly pleasurable: “The Laws Have Changed,” “Use It,” “Letter From An Occupant,” “Sing Me Spanish Techno.” Even though this quirky but profoundly normal band has never enjoyed a level of influence to match say, Animal Collective or Yeah Yeah Yeahs’ respective moments in the sun, few recent rock fans dispute the fact that the New Pornographers have made seven albums of rarely challenged listenability. Only Spoon get talked about with such matching consistency, and frankly, their formalism is a lot warier of the sweet spot; even if you disagree, you’re less likely to sing along with long stretches of a Spoon album. This is partly unfair, because the New Pornographers have so many voices emphasizing and counterpointing their most brilliant moments that they’re pretty much showing you how a crowd would already sound chanting them. But rock ‘n’ roll is unfair.

Together (2010)

You’d be hard-pressed to find much of a narrative that explains why six other New Pornographers albums worked more than this one. There are clear anthems (one that even goes “put your hands together”) and the same three Dan Bejar contributions as usual. Even trying to explain why the usual brightly lit Neko Case single “Crash Years” has some weary element to it is hard; the band’s two most recent albums stake out fairly familiar territory and yet they don’t feel like they’re falling back on something. The New Pornographers’ fifth album just has some unmistakable “another one” feel to it despite plenty of legible hooks and an emphasis of string instruments on the steady-climbing opener “Moves” that should stand out more than it does.

It’s only in the album’s second half that anything emerges that could compete for territory on a best-of: the rollicking “Up In The Dark” with its rousing “What’s love? What’s love?” choruses, the gorgeous, banjo- and piano-employing ballad “Valkyrie In The Roller Disco” with its Fripp-and-Eno-esque guitar solo, and Dan Bejar’s electric orchestral waltz “Daughters Of Sorrow” that finally puts those grandiose strings to memorable use.

The New Pornographers continued the mellower sound of Challengers with their fifth album. Songs like ‘Valkyrie in the Roller Disco’ and ‘If You Can’t See My Mirrors’ are gentle and low key. Challengers is notable for the high number of guest appearances, including St. Vincent, Will Sheff, and Zach Condon, although the guest appearances are subdued enough not to overly influence the sound of the record.

Favourite track: ‘Silver Jenny Dollar’ (Bejar)

Twin Cinema (2005)

For many, the New Pornographers’ third album is the New Pornographers album. That’s largely due to the extravagant goodwill afforded by four of its tunes: the rickety shuffle and heavenly chorus of “Use It,” the chugging, psychedelic ’60s garage of “Jackie, Dressed In Cobras,” the insistent and inextricable-from-your-cranium momentum of “Sing Me Spanish Techno,” whose riff you’re singing along to well before the band adds their own “Listening too long/ To one song” lyric overtop, and, finally, the penultimate “Streets Of Fire,” which is probably the friendliest melody Bejar has ever composed. These are four of this band’s greatest, most joyful successes ever, layered precisely with parts that are in no way simple, yet go down like chocolate to the ears.

Then there are the 10 other songs, such as “Three Or Four” or “The Bones Of An Idol,” which top out at “interesting,” none less than pretty good and none with another hook again as all-encompassing as “Use It.” The bookends “Twin Cinema” and “Stacked Crooked” come closer than others, but the title tune is a particular harbinger of the other thing wrong with the band’s most explicit batch of hits-and-filler to date: Its crude banging and narrow audio scope portends this album’s shocking downgrade in production quality from the band’s first two albums. There’s never a moment that truly bursts from the speakers, and if there’s something else as good as the four best songs here, blame the flat, vaguely cavernous sonics for half-burying anything on the premises that isn’t surefire.

It’s reasonable to categorise The New Pornographers’ first couple of albums as high velocity, and their later albums as more ornate and subdued. Third album Twin Cinema captures them at the perfect place in their evolution between youthful enthusiasm and adult sophistication. And it’s full of great songs like ‘Sing Me Spanish Techno’, ‘The Bones of an Idol’, and ‘Jackie Dressed in Cobras’.

Challengers (2007)

In total contrast to Twin Cinema, its follow-up, Challengers, is the New Pornographers album that’s most guilty-till-proven-innocent. It’s easily the band’s least immediate album, with even fewer obvious hits than Together. But they’re worth finding: The opener and single “My Rights Versus Yours” echoes the widescreen gallop of “Use It” with even sweeter backing vocals and “Mutiny, I Promise You” is an addictive Rubik’s Cube of a rocker, equally punk and prog in its wall-slamming chord changes and sudden rhythm stops due to its bizarre time signature that switches between 4/4 and 2/4. Best of all may be the title track, a swirling Case-sung ballad that somehow employs the only prominent acoustic guitars in the New Pornographers catalog. Fan favorite “Myriad Harbour” is here too, if Bejar’s idea of a silly song is yours, too.

A.C. Newman’s niece Kathryn Calder joined the band in time for their fourth album, adding a second female voice. While there’s upbeat power pop like ‘All The Old Showstoppers’, the meat of Challengers is in the mellow tunes like ‘Go Places’ and the title track, while Bejar shines with ‘Myriad Harbour’ and ‘Entering White Cecilia’.

But more importantly, Challengers’ filler is just more interesting and harmonically diverse than that of its predecessor. Check out the low-buzzing horns on the bluesy throwaway “Failsafe,” or the multiple hoop-jumps of the key-switching orchestral passages of “All The Old Showstoppers.” This is the band’s least comforting album, as many sequences don’t land where a trained pop ear would expect them to, but the adventurousness has aged better and sounds less aimless than it did 10 years ago.

Brill Bruisers (2014)

Behold, the synths. By 2014, it was declared law that any respectable indie-pop stalwarts still kicking around had to buck up and get a sequencer in the mix. But that’s just décor; it’s the songs that dazzle, the chord changes that spin your head, the harmonies that soothe and formed a backbone to the Vancouver ensemble’s most captivating album in years.

Strong from start to finish, Brill Bruisers uses every weapon in the band’s arsenal, whether charging hard (“Dancehall Domine”), glistening placidly (“Another Drug Deal Of The Heart”), throwing memorable obliqueness into the air (“You’re gonna need your body,” chants the gorgeous “Fantasy Fools”), or a slogan worthy of their craft (“They say we can’t make this stuff up/ But what else could we make?” inquires Case on the candy-coated militaristics of “Marching Orders”). Even the stuff that seems a little annoying at first — the “bo-ba-bo-ba-ba-bo” hook of the title tune, Dan Bejar’s goofy-serious delivery on the burbling “War On The East Coast” — accrues heft over time. If only the last few tunes (hi, “Spidyr”!) didn’t trail off slightly.

I enjoyed the more mellow New Pornographers albums that preceded Brill Bruisers, but the return to a high energy approach is welcome here. The opening track is irresistibly upbeat and energetic, and Newman stated that “I am at a place where nothing in my life is dragging me down and the music reflects that.”

Favourite Track – ‘Brill Bruisers’ (Newman) – but let’s watch Bejar’s ‘War on the East Coast’, where Newman lip syncs all the lyrics on Bejar’s behalf.

 Whiteout Conditions (2017)

Except for Together, which is kind of a reheated mush of every New Pornographers album, the group’s other six albums all divide neatly into pairs, thusly: Mass Romantic and Electric Version as uncorked power-pop fizz with barely a moment to catch one’s breath, Twin Cinema and Challengers as two different sides of a more prog- and art-rock-informed version of same, and finally, Brill Bruisers and Whiteout Conditions injecting synthesized rhythm elements into a trickier and more urgent version of the formula. Call these most recent triumphs more horizontal and propulsive forward as opposed to the grand architecture of how the older releases stacked up vertically.

The New Pornographers most recent album is their only record not to feature Destroyer’s Dan Bejar, and it feels incomplete without the three quirky songs he usually contributes. But it’s still a very strong record, updating their sound with more electronics, but not departing from their core strengths of melodic, harmony filled songs.

Favourite track: ‘High Ticket Attractions’ (Newman)

Whiteout Conditions is the most monotonous New Pornographers album by some distance, as Carl Newman explicitly stated it’s chiefly influenced by the train-like motions of Krautrock. It’s also the most explicitly political, because even Canadians can’t keep their jaw from dropping at Trump’s blatant atrociousness. So repetition plus conviction equals, what, punk? Not quite, not on a record whose big showstopper is entitled “This Is The World Of The Theater.” But you can hear it foaming around the edges, in the chunky T. Rex-goes-Magnetic Fields groove of “Darling Shade,” in the robotic, distorted squeal of Neko Case’s glorious opener “Play Money,” or the chugging call-and-response of the anti-Trump single “High Ticket Attractions.” There’s a hard-driving relentlessness to the band’s seventh album, even on a moment of relief like “We’ve Been Here Before,” that hasn’t been heard on a New Pornographers album since their debut 17 years ago. It’s also their least complicated and most explicit record by some distance. So, punk? Maybe.

Electric Version (2003)

For some reason, the New Pornographers never again utilized the grand and vacuum-packed production of their first two albums. Just compare the bleeding-decibel straightness of 2017’s “Play Money” with the beautiful full-room-yet-tight-and-close drum sounds that kick off 2003’s “The Electric Version” and the parent album of the same name. Electric Version is the band’s shiniest record, which doesn’t mean it’s slick. It’s just one of the most wonderfully produced indie-rock albums of all-time, with keyboards sizzling in and around the mix, every lead vocal distinct and upfront, every drum hit bouncing and echoing off what appear to be walls and a floor, while guitars crunch and punch like boxers in a ring.

You can hear every distinct element on Electric Version perfectly balanced with loads of density and space in tandem: the glammy riffage and “woo-hoos” of Bejar’s surprisingly sassy “Chump Change” (though that “lesbian rage” line might scan more groaningly of late), the arcade-game bloops of “From Blown Speakers” that give way to full-chorus chanting, the ear-massaging organ and keyboards all over the place. And Case positively shoots out of the mix on the explosive, strutting “The Laws Have Changed,” which is arguably the most perfect song these unencumbered perfectionists have ever constructed. The others aren’t far behind.

The New Pornographers added more punch to their intricate songcraft on their second album, adding lead guitarist Todd Fancey to beef up their sound. The best known song is ‘The Laws Have Changed’, where Case, as she often does, steals the show, but I’ve always been partial to the tension build and release of ‘From Blown Speakers’.

Mass Romantic (2000)

Bands that write songs this fully realized tend to make their masterpiece down the road after the initial clamour of the debut has died down, and it’s true, “Whiteout Conditions” and even “Brill Bruisers” aren’t far from being “Mass Romantic’s” equals. Electric Version might’ve easily occupied this spot as well, and on the right day it does, though its more than the sum of its parts due to its gorgeous production. “Mass Romantic” has the parts, the whole, and a desperation that storms the castle like few other power-pop records; compare the seasick churn of Weezer’s “My Name Is Jonas,” for instance, to the way the song “Mass Romantic” kicks like a mule from the speakers.

Unsurprisingly, the band’s finest album is the only one to feature songwriting credits from the ever-clever Case, whose sardonic power helps the title track rocket off into Newman’s unfortunately relevant “The Fake Headlines,” and the windmill strumming of “To Wild Homes,” the only New Pornographers song to feature credits from all three of its expert principals: Bejar, Newman, and Case. Every tune on Mass Romantic sizzles and gallops: the bouncing dizziness and endless surprise codas of “The Slow Descent Into Alcoholism,” the spinning-off-a-cliff drumrolls of “The Body Says No,” and Neko Case’s breathless, hiccupping rocker “Letter From An Occupant,” an even rawer example of diamond-hard songwriting in its shining final form than “The Laws Have Changed.” Every chorus on this record is topped by another hook, higher and higher, and when the impossibly stacked plates all come crashing down, that’s just as life-affirming. It’s no wonder that on this evidence no one questioned that supergroup thing. Maybe they are one after all.

I’m aware that this is the most controversial placement on this list, placing the band’s popular debut in the bottom half. Mass Romantic is full of creative songs that are much more sophisticated than the usual I IV V chord progressions of power pop, but it lacks stylistic variation – it’s relentlessly uptempo – and feels a bare without a lead guitarist.

thanks to Stereogum


DESTROYER recently shared a new video for “Stay Lost”from their latest album ken, the 12th studio album released by the Dan Bejar-led group. Called “a user’s guide to the world” by Bejar, the imagery for “Stay Lost” depicts an aimless yet determined craftsman fabricating a world for himself.

ken is available now in the Merge Records store on CD, LP, and limited-edition deluxe LP, the latter of which is pressed on opaque yellow vinyl and includes a bonus 7-inch single on black vinyl that contains solo acoustic versions of two album tracks. You can also pick up the album at your local independent record store or through digital services.

Destroyer is the long-running solo project from The New Pornographer’s Dan Bejar. Destroyer’s 12th album ken showcases the evocative songwriting he is known for and we’re excited to welcome the band for a live set.

The full-band Destroyer tour is making its way across North America now! Get a sneak peek of what to expect with their recent appearance on KCRW’s Morning Becomes Eclectic.

The New Pornographers Whiteout Conditions

The New Pornographers have always insisted that they aren’t a supergroup, but no one has ever believed them. Between A.C. Newman, Neko Case, Dan Bejar, and a stellar set of supporting players, the band includes some of the finest musical talent Canada has to offer. Their collective résumé is damn impressive, but their chemistry is even more so. Since their debut Mass Romantic, the New Pornographers have always sounded like natural collaborators, seamlessly integrating Newman’s natural ear for melody, Bejar’s quirks, and Case’s pathos and enchanting voice (and vocalist Kathryn Calder’s, for that matter). You can say they’re not a supergroup,

Whiteout Conditions, the New Pornographers’ seventh album, is the most compelling twist on the supergroup narrative in the band’s discography. Two of their main members aren’t on it. Dan Bejar was too busy working on Destroyer’s follow-up to Poison Season to participate, and Kurt Dahle, whose phenomenal drumming was essential to much of the band’s early work, has left for good. You can feel their absence, but it doesn’t slow this record down. Despite losing a part of their signature sound, the New Pornographers have made their best record since 2005’s Twin Cinema.

In Bejar’s absence, Newman takes on full songwriting duties and shines. He’s always been the principal songwriter in the New Pornographers, but on Whitehouse Conditions he outdoes himself with eleven tracks that put the power in power pop. The four opening tracks—“Play Money”, “Whiteout Conditions”, “High Ticket Attractions”, and “This is the World of the Theater”—stand among the band’s best ever songs.

Each one balances the talents of the band in intricate, infectious melodies. Voices are edited into fragments and rebuilt into complex and original frameworks. The synthesizer holds over from 2014’s Brill Bruisers, but it doesn’t dominate the record in the same way. The tempos are faster than they are on most New Pornographers records, especially the mellower Challengers and Together, but Whiteout Conditions manages its momentum so that its energy is never exhausting. Closing on album standout “Avalanche Alley”, you’re left with your blood pumping, ready to play it through again.

The New Pornographers have a knack for generating positivity from darker moods. In that regard, Whiteout Conditions is a welcome spring escape. The title track’s enchanting melody distracts from its somber lyrics about struggling to get through the day, but Newman’s refrain of “Such a waste of beautiful day” feels like an admonition to get outside and embrace whatever beauty you can find.

Perhaps the most noteworthy thing about Whiteout Conditions, however, is how well it meshes with the rest of the New Pornographers’ discography. Brill Bruisers was a solid record, but there was the sense of a band getting its bearings with updated tools. Here, the music feels more organic and in line with the songcraft that has formed the band’s backbone to date. True, Bejar, who traditionally wrote about a third of each record, is missed. The album sags slightly in the middle, and one wonders if his touch might have added an interesting surprise here and there. But the heart of the New Pornographers, an undeniable chemistry and pop sensibility, remains and thrives. They’re not just a supergroup, a collection of talented musicians. They’re a great band,

Destroyer 'Ken' artwork

Dan Bejar, aka Destroyer, has announced a new album today called Ken. The title is apparently lifted from the original title of Suede’s “Wild Ones”. Ken will be Bejar’s first album since 2015’s Poison Season. It’s out October 20th on Merge Records . Chaos strikes in a hospital. Satan haunts a fashion show. Tinseltown swims in blood. Destroyer’s twelfth album, ken, is full of unforgettable scenes from Dan Bejar, one of indie rock’s finest lyricists, with a macabre bent suiting his newfound penchant for gothy synths.

The LP’s opening number, “Sky’s Grey”,


“Where have all sensations gone?” Neko Case asked on this Vancouver band’s debut. A lot of indie-rockers were wondering the same thing during the music’s late-Nineties nadir. The New Porno’s gave the scene a jolt of energy and sorely missed fun. Burt Bacharach fan Carl Newman, Bowie obsessive Dan Bejar and alt-country barnburner Case didn’t have much in common on paper but on songs like “Letter From An Occupant” and the title track they came up with music that surged with electric smarts, roundhouse drum-pump and hooks atop hooks. It’s power pop that never lets up for a minute.

Initially billed as the biggest Vancouver supergroup that no one had heard of, the New Pornographers were burst to life fully formed on Mass Romantic. There’s three different vocalists competing for your attention here – Neko Case, A.C Newman and Dan Bejar all the while the band opts to throw everything into the same blender. What the New Pornographers excel at is making everything sound like a massive sugar rush with their voracious love of synths and guitars and catchy melodies. With Mass Romantic, the band proves themselves studious in their noted appreciation of the pop form and its classics but too hypercharged and frenetic to come across as retro. The highlights are many: The vocal harmonies on “Letter From An Occupant”! The way those brash synths build up and let loose on “Mystery Hours”! How it takes less than thirty seconds for the band to get to the chorus for “The Mary Martin Show”! The New Pornographers would scale greater heights in later albums and make big names out of everyone involved but Mass Romantic was where they thrillingly laid down the blueprint.