Destroyer 'Labyrinthitis' Review - Rolling Stone
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Destroyer Take Us to a Demented Disco on ‘Labyrinthitis’

Dan Bejar seems game to throw everything against the proverbial wall and see what sound it makes

DestroyerDestroyer

Destroyer

Nicolas Bragg*

Destroyer’s last album, 2020’s Have We Met, was recorded mostly at Dan Bejar’s kitchen table — whispered phantasmagorias woven after his family was asleep. Bejar’s latest, Labyrinthitis, is an apt insomniac’s companion as well — but this time it’s for lonely dancers who linger on the floor until the sun comes up, high on adrenaline… or something else.

The Vancouver singer-songwriter has spent his career happily swerving between sounds and moods, from the Bowie-esque (2001’s Streethawk: A Seduction) to the meta-yacht (2011’s Kaputt) to the acerbic Springsteenian (2015’s Poison Season). And from the first ecstatic strains of “Have We Met,” you get the sense that Bejar is still ardently dodging categorization. Here more than ever, he just seems game to throw everything against the proverbial wall and see what sound it makes. There are synths that recall Eighties videogames — or, perhaps, horny comedies like 1985 classic Weird Science — the silliness tamped down by Bejar’s deep velvet voice and less-than-sunny outlook. Take “Suffer,” for example, which despite rave-worthy beats (and robot voices!) reminds us, “No matter when/don’t matter where/you’re gonna suffer.” Could be your feet, weary from dancing, or your psyche — by that point you’re too far gone to care.

Once you hit “June” — a layer of sleaze caked over what devolves into a slam poetry event on the back of a junk truck — the night is full going off the rails. “Tintoretto, It’s for You” kicks off with atonal piano and Bejar’s sinister sneer leading into what can only be described as what it would sound like if Nick Cave was hanging at a disco club with light-up floors. There’s a brief respite from the flashing lights and slinking alleyways of the title track — a sound collage of children’s voices and the tread of feet on a woodland path — before manic drums usher us into the swinging “Eat the Wine, Drink the Break.” Then there’s “It Takes a Thief,” a jazzy, hyperactive track that leaves you clapping your hands right before the collapse — a.k.a. the woozy “The States” and the appropriately titled “The Last Song.” The latter is a kind of coda. Bejar is no longer whispering in the midnight kitchen or raging in the nightclub of his memories. It’s fully day now — or as day-like as a day can be in Destroyer World.

In This Article: Dan Bejar, Destroyer

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