Review Summary: Lights, camera, action!
Dan Bejar has never been a man of subtlety. Although the vast majority of Destroyer’s work heavily includes the work of naked acoustic guitar, the instrument is used as anything but down to earth. Through offbeat patterns, lush soundscapes and theatrical performances Bejar has for years made more out of less. Performing massive, ambitious projects with little more than novelty backing instrumentation, crooning vocals and lush acoustic medleys Bejar’s work is nothing short of his fame.
While Destroyer’s earlier material such as ‘City of Daughters’ was much more bear with basic melodies and underwhelming introspection he has added layers to his work with each and every album. Although still relying on bare instrumentation albums such as ‘Streethawk: A Seduction’ brought to the table sprawling soundscapes backed by emotional narrative and honest delivery in the most grand scale of sense. Each album gets a little more daring, and little more adventurous, it is always interesting to see where Destroyer will take his music next. Song structures throughout the years have gone from crude rhymes to grand vessels of self-exploration, so what does Your Blues bring to the table? Nothing really and that is the most disappointing measure of all when it comes to this album.
Your Blues arguably may be Destroyer’s most off kilter album to date but it is certainly among his least ambitious of recent years. Your Blues is a monster album, it is an orchestra, a festival of sounds, gadgets and all the wonders of a Willy Wonka factory but this album is all dressed up with nowhere to go. Never has Destroyer sounded so dubious, the sprawling cathartic journeys of the past have been all but replaced with flashy 80’s synths and lifeless sometimes overwhelming instrumentation. Every song is something new but not much of it is interesting, more often than not the addition of a new instrument is the novelty in and of itself taking away all focus from the rest of the song and leaving us with nothing left to indulge but some boastful indie wankery.
The most notable quality of Your Blues is its sense of scale. The songs here are inflated and boisterous featuring new steps around every corner each more demanding than the last with Bejar’s voice echoing down the grand halls of the theater to back it all up. The synth work is also notable albeit cheesy at times. The brightness of the horns, the tepid piano crescendos laced throughout and various brass instruments grow louder and louder demanding attention but they often don’t have much to say. Without the emotional catharsis or the winding song structures of previous releases there is little here that screams a Destroyer album.
The European-folkish buildup on ‘ Notorious Lightening’ is a prime example of all that is wrong with Your Blues: loud, in your face and entirely pointless. There is little relevance either musically or lyrically to the album with all of these instruments so it is difficult to figure out why exactly Destroyer decided to indulge in all these fine chocolates if he knew it was going to go straight to the thighs.
Your Blues is an over bloated orchestra and although it is rife full with fresh and new ideas many of them are not much more than novelty. Here Bejar opted to delve into more experimental sounds and design a palette of half assed clutter. Bejar is at his best performance when he is at his most subdued, fragile and honest but it is hard to be taken seriously when you’re wearing a pimp hat.