Destroyer: Have We Met review – Dan Bejar’s return is a revelation

Thu, Jan 30, 2020, 12:00

   
 

Album:
Have We Met

Artist:
Destroyer

Label:
Dead Oceans

Genre:
Alternative

Have We Met reintroduces Dan Bejar to an increasingly shapeshifting world, by producing something both doomily familiar and refreshingly modern. Taking its shape from 2011’s dreamy Kaputt, Bejar revisits ghosts of Christmas past to tremendous effect.

A case in point is the evocative Crimson Tide, underpinned with images lifted from his notebooks of the last decade, it folds in “equal parts ecstasy and terror”, rumbling along with melancholy and whimsical piano, meeting its counterpart in The Television Music Supervisor, a reflective treatise on a life lived in totality.

Characters waltz around on narratives of ruined elegance, and lives unlived, or over-lived, with long-time collaborator John Collins layering synths and rhythm sections over Bejar’s stream of consciousness, and Nic Bragg’s shredding guitar, which takes centre stage on the gorgeous Cue Synthesizer, along with frenzied drums.

Bejar’s lyrics are worthy descendants of influences Baudelaire and Langston Hughes, cementing him as a key lyricist of the last 25 years, from the poetic Kinda Dark – “the light goes where you go, sewn into your hem”, to the gothic It Just Doesn’t Happen – “you cast a poisonous look to the sun”– his words dazzle, and anchor soundscapes that veer from squalling, synth-led dread on The Raven, to foolsong, with its fairground world of carousels and bees, sweeping to a Delia Derbyshire-inflected wheeze that is a revelation, as this entire, entrancing record is.