Destroyer – Five Spanish Songs EP

Destroyer – Five Spanish Songs EP

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Few artists can claim to be as immediately recognizable, yet impossible to pin down as Dan Bejar. The man who would be Destroyer has seemingly charted his career by whatever course would confound, and therefore shake off, the more casual observers. But for some, it’s unthinkable to not track that reedy voice wherever it may go, as it’s usually attached to some glorious high-wire melody that few of his contemporaries can provide.

So whether it’s recording an album of composed of mostly MIDI orchestration (2004’s Your Blues) or lush art-pop (2006’s Destroyer’s Rubies), Destroyer is devoted to demonstrating a consistent inconsistence. Some would say that searching nature bore the richest fruit on 2011’s Kaputt, where Bejar’s command of lyricism, melody, and above all, style seemed to perfectly click, though few would have guessed the “style” on his most accomplished work would be so cosmetically similar to soft rock.

But if Bejar’s tonal prickliness and tangent-filled lyrics/melodies have intimidated listeners before, then his new EP, Five Spanish Songs, should offer a surprisingly effective gateway into his world. No need to worry about misunderstanding his referential and thorny lyrics, because the ones featured on the EP are not his own, and they’re in Spanish to boot.

Yes, each of the five eponymous songs on the new Destroyer EP were written by Antonio Luque of the band Sr. Chinarro, though Bejar wears them like his own. Whether it’s the bouncy trifle “Del Monton”, the charged power-pop of “El Rito” (a song that wouldn’t be out of place on a New Pornographers record), or the dizzyingly colorful “Babieca”, Bejar fronts them like they were his own. Then again, opener “Maria De Las Nieves” plays like a great, lost Destroyer’s Rubies’ b-side, and the gentle, affecting closer, “Bye Bye”, certainly shares a kinship with many a Destroyer acoustic ballad.

Most of all, Five Spanish Songs is an almost ingenious way of deflating the pressure on Destroyer. What better way to follow up an album as beloved as Kaputt than with a small batch of light, perfectly enjoyable tunes that aren’t even your own? It may not be an absolutely essential entry in the Destroyer canon, but it’s lovely all the same, and it’s a baffling enough career choice worthy of the artist.


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