Destroyer-Streethawk: A Seduction

January 11, 2009


Streethawk: A Seduction (Misra 2001)

Before I begin, I am very sorry for disappearing for such a long vacation. Shit has hit the proverbial fan and blogs seem inconsequential. However, it stinks less than last week, so here I am.

Before he lost himself in a lyrical labyrinth of his own creation, Dan Bejar, otherwise knows as Destroyer, was one of the most witty, dense lyricists of the 90s. The cryptic lyrics and Bowie nods were plentiful, but they worked despite themselves, Streethawk: A Seduction is the first album where he really shed his indie-rock cocoon and became some wordy bastard child of Hunky Dory. Later albums became more verbose and complex, but Streethawk is the one where his knack for penning a catchy, but bizarro tune melded perfectly with a love of Bowie. Yes, subsequent efforts like This Night and Rubies pinched from different Bowie albums and were equally dense, but this one has an almost Dylan-esque ramble to it. By no means are any of Destroyer’s albums on par with the highlights of both of these legends, but Streethawk hints that Bejar could be a bizarro version if he cut the fat from his sometimes pretentious songs.  However,  even his most bloated songs break my fragile ticker when he aims for the bullseye and hits it perfectly.

I have always had a romantic fascination with Werner Herzog’s Fitzcarraldo, so Destroyer’s “Virgin with a Memory” always floors me with its opening line of ” Was it the movie or the making of Fitzcarraldo where someone learned to love again.”  Al;though it is only an intro, it is a perfect image to conjure for a song about someone coming to grips with the weight of an actual passion. It may be overwrought to compare Herzog’s torture of sailing a riverboat up the Amazon, but somehow it is a fitting analogy for an emotionally stunted soul struggling to feel emotions that are dangerous, but electric. It is a song that celebrates youth and its infinte possibilies where all is new and raw.

Sometimes his lyrics sound better in song  than when read, but they are always interesting even when it winds up as a pile of well-crafted nonsense.  His discography is spotted with flaws, but somehow I keep listening to his albums because his flaws are infinitely more interesting than most musician’s successes.

5 Responses to “Destroyer-Streethawk: A Seduction”

  1. Bryan Says:

    I think Rubies is as good as Hunky Dory. I listen to it more often.

    Anyhow, your observations are astute as always, and as always, so good to find your magic byline pulsing! That first line of Virgin with a Memory is a perfect example of Destroyer’s specific strain of non-sequitur: a Magritte-like formulation that matches a thing with its likely (contiguous) metaphor.

    Lately for me it has been ‘Goddess of Drought’, with lines like:

    How could you not have known you wouldn’t need those rings
    For this scene when it’s called:
    Goddess of Drought Figures Us Out.

    What a juggler!

  2. ilya Says:

    Good to see you back.

    That Psychic TV album kicked my ass.

  3. Bob Says:

    this is so good. i’ve already listened to it three times. cheers sir.

  4. […] I think it’s good just to throw in a cliché strategically. Dan Bejar [New Pornographer and Destroyer chief] is good at that. His lyrics will be really strange and obscure, then all of a sudden,  […]

  5. Trenton Sele Says:

    Excellent! If I could write like this I would be well chuffed. The more I read articles of such quality as this (which is rare), the more I think there could be a future for the Net. Keep it up, as it were.

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