By Dave Herrera
By Jesse Livingston
By Cory Casciato
By Jon Solomon
By Jesse Livingston
By Alejandra Loera
By Stephanie March
By Tom Murphy
The third CD from this pioneer-spirited Canadian fivesome, hand-delivered via the rudimentary indie methods of Pony Express and word of mouth, is just now showing up on a midget's handful of radio playlists months after its official release date. But who's counting? "It's a long climb down from obscurity/So cancel the keys to the city, please," concedes singer-songwriter Daniel Bejar on "The Way of Perpetual Roads." Playing a discreet three shows a year in its home arena of Vancouver, Destroyer has been careful not to oversaturate that pre-emergent scene, and the band won't be bar-hopping America peddling its CD in exchange for Coors on tap anytime soon. The buoyant, singsong anthem "Destroyer's the Temple" suggests that such inconspicuousness isn't just okay, it's the preferred way of being: "The popular singers are mean to us/You'll find there's joy in being barred from the Temple." This is a consoling, if not convenient, point of view given the ever-escalating birthrate of rock/pop bands (which far surpasses that of feral cats) and the routine exclusion of Canadian groups from the music-industry Temple's top ten, a list dominated by the U.S., Japan and Germany.
Destroyer knows something about keeping its distance from the world -- and how the world keeps itself from the band. This balancing act is one of many that the group performs meticulously. Throughout Thief, Bejar's voice urges and relents; he pleads by pricking his higher-pitched vowels with twinged thrusts and taps strategic consonants against his teeth with a high saliva-to-enamel ratio. The diverse inklings of each instrument are seeded at exactly the right place and time, growing cooperatively to the beat of what Bejar likens to your standard skittish Mayo Thompson-inspired underground sound.
The presence of a real piano, handled by Jason Zumpano, casts an English hue on Destroyer's songs that's reminiscent of David Bowie's 1971 Hunky Dory. However, the lyrics inhabiting this tower of ivories have advanced in thirty years, yielding songs such as "Death on the Festival Circuit" and "To the Heart of the Sun on the Back of the Vulture, I'll Go," in which Bejar displays a more sophisticated awareness of the world below the balcony -- the encroaching landowners and architects brandishing leases and blueprints; false eyelashes supplanted by false breasts; white lip-gloss giggles smeared over by blackened, collagen-bloated pouts. Yet the piano remains the piano, and it is as comfort-giving in Destroyer's songs as it was the day Rick Wakeman swathed it around Bowie's "Life on Mars." It affords a protective surface to Bejar's unmasking of the standard fraud, corruption and child abuse that courses up and down the veins of music culture.
Destroyer's next CD will be released by an American label, though the group hasn't yet decided which one. This re-allegiance should both beef and speed up its distribution, especially in the States. So start counting!
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