Exclaim! - - SHOTS - By Alex Hud­son

DAN 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

“I al­ways think De­stroyer songs take place with a city burn­ing in the back­drop.”

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 prob- ably 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.”

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