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March 16th, 2011 MICHAEL MANNHEIMER | Music Stories
 

Rhythm And Booze

Drinking with Destroyer’s Dan Bejar.

MusicList_DanBejar_3719IMAGE: Ted Bois
     
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More than any other current songwriter, Dan Bejar’s lyrics beg for a good unpacking. For 15 years, Bejar has written twisting, expansive and eccentric songs for his own Destroyer project as well as acting as the secret weapon behind Canadian supergroup the New Pornographers. Bejar is fascinating in that he’s just as likely to quote himself as he is to appropriate a Joy Division verse. But on Destroyer’s new album, Kaputt, Bejar drops some of his lyrical Easter eggs and knotty glam-rock arrangements for soft-rock textures, lots of saxophone and a relaxed delivery that smooths out his sometimes-whiny voice to reveal a confident storyteller. The record’s closest parallel is probably Leonard Cohen’s oft-overlooked 1988 gem I’m Your Man—specifically the lush single “Ain’t No Cure for Love”—another success in melding poetic wordplay with a mix of synth-pop grandeur and smooth-jazz cheesiness.

Kaputt is also an excellent album to get wasted to—the epic “Bay of Pigs” opens with the admission “Listen, I’ve been drinking,” for chrissakes—which got me thinking about updating the ol’ Destroyer Concert Drinking Game. The rules are simple: Raise your glass when you spot one of the following Destroyer-isms. I’d advise sticking to Bejar’s favorite spirits (Bud Light and red wine!) or get ready for a wicked post-show hangover.

So, drink every time...

...Bejar sings about a previous album or song.

Bejar likes to quote things he’s said before, often on the same album. Fortunately, Kaputt features fewer meta moments, but the title track does contain the repeated refrain “I wrote a song for America”—and “Song for America” is the name of the second-to-last track on the album. Take one drink.

...he mentions another band, song, or musician.

Every artist borrows chords and song structures from their inspirations, but Bejar takes it one step further by talking about his favorite bands on a regular basis. Sometimes the references are hidden (when Bejar sings “September girls think those pearls just wash up on the shore” on Streethawk: A Seduction’s “Streethawk I,” he’s alluding to the Big Star song “September Gurls”) but Kaputt’s “Blue Eyes” contains explicit mentions of New Order and the Beatles song “Mother Nature’s Son.” Drink twice for good measure.

...you hear the name of a British music magazine.

Kaputt’s title track features a chorus that drops the names of four of ’em: the defunct rags Sounds, Smash Hits and Melody Maker, plus NME, which is still published weekly. Take one to four drinks.

...he sings about a woman.

Oh shit, get ready to pass out. Here’s an incomplete rundown of women who have appeared in Destroyer songs to date: Bonnie, Mary (on both “Rubies” and “The Leg We Stand On”), Melanie, Jennifer, Jackie, Libby, Jenny, Gretchen, Nicole, Susan, Molly, Christine, Candice, Tabitha, Ruby, Hannah, Crystal, Karen, Holly, Madeline, Louise, Michelle, Helena, Mary Jane, Eva, Jessica. Kaputt is relatively light in this regard, except “Bay of Pigs,” which features a Nancy, a Christine and a Magnolia. Take three drinks.

...a character in a song is quoted.

Example, from “Poor in Love”: “She took me aside and said, ‘Look, I don’t do this every day....’” Might be hard to catch these during the show unless you’re a hard-core Destroyer nerd, so bring a lyrics sheet or pass on this one.

...there’s a superfluous saxophone solo.

Oh, what a glorious night! 


SEE IT: Destroyer plays Saturday, March 19, at Doug Fir, with the War on Drugs. 9 pm. $13 advance, $15 day of show. 21+.

 
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