Destroyer – Have We Met: New Music Review

Destroyer have the most misleading name in popular music. What you expect is death metal or perhaps a KISS tribute band. What you get is a man sardonically purring and bleating his twisted insights over smooth yacht rock.

Like many music fans, I first encountered Dan Bejar as a member of The New Pornographers. He’d contribute three twisted songs on each record to contrast with the classicist power-pop of A.C. Newman. Bejar hasn’t performed with The New Pornographers since 2014, and his solo albums have received more attention than his parent band over the last decade. In particular, 2011’s Kaputt often turns up on best-of-decade lists.

Have We Met backs Bejar with smooth pop sounds – it recalls music from the turn of the 1980s. The glacial beauty of Roxy Music’s 1982 album Avalon surfaces in the mellower songs, while the title of opening track ‘Crimson Tide’ instantly recalls ‘Deacon Blue’ from Steely Dan’s smooth 1977 album Aja.

The production, from New Pornographers’ bassist John Collins, is superb – the bass is warm and punchy, and the other instruments are warm and inviting. The best tracks utilise lush arrangements, like ‘It Just Doesn’t Happen’. Bejar also has charisma to fall back on – “I was like the laziest river/A vulture predisposed to eating off floors” is a great line to open the record with.

The most immediate track is ‘Cue Synthesizer’, with Bejar languorously commanding his band. “Cue synthesizer. Cue guitar. Bring in the drums. Cue fake drums.”

I’m not yet sure where Have We Met sits in Destroyer’s discography overall, but it’s an engaging and charismatic record.

16 Comments

    • I don’t really like him on the early NP records – maybe because those were the ones I heard first, and it took me a while to get used to him. He’s really good on records like Challengers and Together though – he started doing more straightforward stuff there.

  1. He has a unique voice or phrasing. I listened to 3 songs. Kinda Dark, Crimson Tide, and this one. I like them but at first the intros kind of sound like spoken word at first listen but then I realized that was his singing style…it’s his phrasing.

    • Thanks for listening! It does venture close to hip hop in some ways – more about lyrics and vocal style than tunes (although the band plays stuff that sounds like 1970s and 1980s sophisti-pop).

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