Words by Sean Moeller, Illustration by Johnnie Cluney, Recording engineered by Mike Gentry
Destroyer's Dan Bejar gets himself in deep, when he's writing about the lives - mostly those of women -- that he likes to create. He worships the most minute of details, finding them to hold the most interesting aspects of why anything happens, why anyone's miserably striking out or happily striking out.
Those seem to be the two kinds of people that the brilliant Canadian songwriter writes about most frequently. The ones that he makes feel most developed are those who are decently happy and striking out. They're straddling that line between happiness and something less so, but they aren't wallowing in any of the misfortune that's going on in their lives - the coincidental and the carefully developed stuff. They are feeling the full-bloodedness of their escapades, their missteps and foibles. The follies are not laughable. They're grave, but observed and understood by the masses.
These are not unlikely stories, but those most toughed out. They are intricate and impossible to unravel stories, layered like coats of paint, with the base layer containing a heavy dose of lead. Digging into them deeply is going to lead you straight to it. Bejar sings with leveled emotion, delivering these narratives with matter-of-fact nuance. He sings about Libby, in "Libby's First Sunrise":
"You've been wasted from the day
Of wandering and boozing and sleeping outside.
Suffering idiots all of your life and this is what you get.
Master of all you survey,
But today you've been wandering around.
You've been fucking around.
You've been wandering around.
You've been fucking around...uh."
He gives us one of his most telling lines, one that could be applied to almost all of his wobbly characters, singing, "The light holds a terrible secret." It's there and it's obvious. It's just not normally referenced. It tends to be ignored or it's abridged. It's always there though. The lives of the Bejar people never diminish. They bloat with color. They swell with texture and give us everything but conclusions. They won't get that night they're hoping for. It always seems to be a day away, out there on a string, dangling over the cliff and then dropped. Bejar loves that nothing is ever going to be clean for his characters. They're going to have their hands full, even if it never dawns on them. He sings:
"And I also know I'm not the one you've been dying to slip off with into the Night...
Cherished radical, I always knew you had it in you...
Trials by fire are so easily won -
Just try not to burn and things might not get worse...
Hollowed-out valleys now rattle with the curse that
Tonight is not your Night... It's not your Night
Well, I followed the cries to a second-story flat and,
In praise of bad luck, I threw down the homemade hat she made...
Soon, the feral beast did beautify our wounds with a body that knew -
You shouldn't hurt the ones you love... unless you really want to...
Tried to celebrate the world, not hurl insults at a girl...
But that finite rush which destroys every one of us is good destruction...
Yeah, Hannah, you heard it here first - It's the good destruction."