I’m reminded of Ian Broudie. You know, Ian Broudie. Come on! He was in like umpteen million bands in the eighties and then produced “Rescue” for Echo & the Bunnymen. He’s probably most famous for his band The Lightning Seeds. Their first album, Cloudcuckooland was a masterpiece of well crafted keyboard-driven pop. I am reminded of Ian Broudie because I am listening to a new release by singer-songwriter Daniel Bejar. Best known for being part of The New Pornographers, Bejar, under the name Destroyer, has released an electronic / folk / arty masterpiece called Your Blues. Hailing from Vancouver, this is the Canadian’s sixth album under the name, and arguably the best.
“Notorious Lightening” sounds like a piece from a modern musical, with Bejar not quite singing, but not quite just talking over a dramatic processed orchestra. It’s as if Serge Gainsbourg, OMD, the Polyphonic Spree, and David Bowie were commissioned to create a Broadway extravaganza based on the state of the world today. Whew! And what’s even more impressive than that is that he made it seem effortless and pulls it off to great effect.
“It’s Gonna Take An Airplane” shows off Bejar’s lyrical prowess with such lines as when you stick around people like to put things in the ground. More processed strings are accompanied by handclaps and layered vocals which make this song one of the best on the album. “The Music Lovers” is the most Broudie-like song on the record, and the most quickly noticeable. Some might be thrown off by the dramatic rises in his pitch and tone when he gets to the word “bad” at 1:10 into the song. But roll with it, we all loved this stuff in the eighties!
The prettiest moment in a record that I’ve heard in quite a long time comes 48 seconds into the title track. First Bejar unleashes, a capella, some of the best lyrics I’ve heard in a while with:
“Why does every one of her lovers leave her? / I’m ill equipped to judge the tale of a woman / that inviting army slut, the colonel’s in a rut / back at the base they’re saying / now each day when he awakes his prayers take the form of one question: / How is it that we can be both skating and dying?”
Then the song takes a turn to the heartbreaking as the music and tone echo Smiths’ songs “Last Night I Dreamt Somebody Loved Me”, “Asleep” or “Please Please Please Let Me Get What I Want”, while the lyrics are just as emotional as Bejar whispers, Lord knows I’ve been trying just as Morrissey would whisper Well, there must be. Essentially it sounds like a song from the closing credits of a lost John Hughes movie that left everyone in the audience wiping away bittersweet tears.
“New Ways of Living” starts with the first line and strains of “Always on My Mind” but then switches gears back into Bejar territory with more breathy but clear annunciations and “lie-die-die” singing. “Don’t Become the Thing You Hated” will become a favorite of Death Cab fans for sure. He invokes the Smiths once again in “What Road” when he sings, There is a light and it goes out.
Your Blues is a miraculous record. Trying to describe the feel of this album could easily turn off any music lover as it could have ended up cheesy and self-important, but with skillfully crafted lyrics and the soaring sounds of an artificial orchestra, this album is sure to become an indie classic like In The Aeroplane Over the Sea or I See a Darkness.
The Lightning Seeds- Cloudcuckooland
Neutral Milk Hotel- In the Aeroplane Over the Sea
The Polyphonic Spree- The Beginning Stages of…