Published Nov 07, 2017Dan Bejar has been making albums as Destroyer for over 20 years, but he still isn't confident in his own instincts. When he first sat down to write his latest, ken, he created detailed demos with the intention of making a guitar-based singer-songwriter record. It wasn't long before he did an about-face.
"I didn't really trust myself," he admits. "I wanted the rhythm section, however robotic or real it was going to be, to kick ass."
In search of great rhythms, Bejar naturally turned to Destroyer's drummer Joshua Wells (also of Black Mountain) to help him arrange the tunes. This led to Wells producing ken, marking the first time since the '90s that Destroyer has recorded without longtime Vancouver production allies JC/DC.
Bejar ended up giving Wells carte blanche to rework the songs, resulting in a stylistically diverse collection that draws on Destroyer's signature glam rock and baroque balladry while also including swooning synths and infectious drum programming. It's ornate while still sounding much less lavish than previous LPs Poison Season and Kaputt.
Although ken contains some of the most upbeat, instantly gratifying songs of Destroyer's career, Bejar characterizes it as a "negative" album, with cryptic lyrics inspired by the unsettling state of America. He reflects, "I always think Destroyer songs take place with a city burning in the backdrop, even if it's supposed to be kind of romantic. It's always supposed to be a world in flames."
It's yet another triumph from Bejar who, now 11 albums in, still makes every new sonic evolution sound fresh and surprising. He probably ought to trust himself by now, but instead, he has no idea what the future holds. "Right now, I'm staring at zero songs," he says with a laugh. "I'm like a blank slate. I could be anything now — or nothing."