November 1, 2002

Test Spin: Destroyer

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Destroyer is basically Canadian native Dan Bejar, a songwriter whose progression from lo-fi acoustics to grandiose Bowie-esque concept albums has made his career one of the most interesting of the past few years. This Night is the follow-up to last year’s Streethawk: A Seduction, and is equally worthy of praise.

Destroyer’s music — by Bejar and his ever-changing array of cohorts — in contrast with their name, is low-key, highly textured rock. Bejar’s strongest suit is his keen ear for arranging, which makes all 15 of these songs a true treat for the ears, particularly on headphones. Handclaps, horns, strings, background vocals, keyboards, and a host of other instruments, both conventional and unexpected, are layered to create complex structures that seem impenetrable at first, and slowly open up to the careful listener. On “The Chosen Few,” two different vocal tracks, singing the same lines with slightly different inflection, are given a unique overdubbing effect by putting one in the left channel and one in the right.

Bejar is also a dazzling lyricist, and his delivery of his rambling poems is expressive and fraught with emotion — on “Holly Going Lightly,” he sings, “I dug your poetry